A Peter Crouch hat-trick capped of a fantastic night for Tottenham Hotspur as the London club reached the Champions League group stages for the first time in their history.
Crouch opened the scoring with a header within five minutes, with fellow English striker Jermain Defoe doubling Spurs’ lead just before half-time.
Another header from the lanky striker all-but-ended the match as a contest, while a late penalty was calmly put away by Crouch as Tottenham powered past Swiss side Young Boys. Defender Senad Lulic was sent off after giving away the penalty.
Tottenham will have been feeling very luck after last week’s poor performance in the first leg against the Swiss side. Spurs lost 3-2 to Young Boys after being 3-0 down after thirty minutes. Goals from Sebastien Bassong and Roman Pavlyuchenko saved Harry Redknapp’s side in Switzerland.
After defeating Stoke at the weekend Tottenham were ready for a stern test from YB. Redknapp selected a strong side to play at White Hart Lane, with Defoe putting off necessary surgery in order to play up front alongside Crouch, with Ledley King able to play a rare midweek game with his injury problems.
Redknapp had called for attacking football before the match and he certainly got his wish. With just under five minutes gone Saturday’s goal-hero, Gareth Bale, crossed in to find Crouch at the back post, unmarked. The England forward headed in from close range, giving Tottenham that early goal that they so badly craved.
The first half lacked clear-cut chances but when they came Tottenham’s way they were taken. After a clever chip from Bale, who was beginning to pull the strings for Spurs in the middle of the pitch as well as on both flanks, Defoe brought the ball down and brilliantly finished to put Tottenham two-up. The ball went in off the post but Young Boys were not happy with the goal as Defoe seemed to bring the ball down with the use of his arm.
Tottenham were in control, though, with Defoe dragging a shot wide after Aaron Lennon had slipped him in before half-time. Spurs did have a slight concern at half-time as goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes picked up a leg injury, forcing the Brazilian to take a seat on the bench to be replaced by Carlo Cudicini. The Italian, who was making his return to first-team action after a horrific car crash last season, was rarely troubled by a poor Young Boys side.
The centre-back pairing of Michael Dawson and King will be crucial to Tottenham’s success this season as the club can look forward to more games due to the Champions League. King and Dawson were both excellent at the back with Vedran Corluka and Benoit Assou-Ekotto also putting in good performances at right and left-back respectively.
Tottenham continued, after the break, to press the Young Boys defence at every moment, with Tom Huddlestone and Wilson Palacios controlling the game in the middle. The speed of Lennon and technical ability of Bale on the wings make Spurs exciting prospects going forward, and it was from Bale, again, that another goal was created.
The Welshman looped in a high corner which was met firmly by Crouch, who was six yards out. The 6ft. 7in. striker powered home the header to all-but-finish off the Swiss side.
Crouch’s striking partner Defoe was brought off with half-an-hour to go, with Pavlyuchenko replacing the forward. It was always going to be Crouch’s night, though, and when Bale went down in the area after a Lulic challenge, Crouch stepped up to place the penalty into the bottom corner to round off his hat-trick and confirm Spurs’ place in the Champions League.
Tottenham Hotspur 4 – 0 Young Boys
Crouch 5, 60, (pen) 77