Crouch uses his head to begin the Real redemption in

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Stoke City 2

They are as good as out of the Champions' League, but Tottenham are still in with a chance of being among Europe's elite next season. Having lost 4-0 to Real Madrid, a game against Stoke might not have been Harry Redknapp's idea of a hangover cure. At times Spurs played like their brains were still scrambled, but Peter Crouch who lost his head against Madrid, showed more composure to score twice.

Spurs recorded their first League win in two months, but the team they are now trying to catch, Manchester City, will be six points ahead if they beat Liverpool tomorrow so their task is not easy. Redknapp, however, remains confident. He said: "We're still in there for fourth place, it's still wide open, anything can happen."

The result in Spain had hung over Spurs for four days, but an early goal began to focus their minds. A short corner surprised Stoke, Rafael van der Vaart slipped a pass to Roman Pavlyuchenko and his quick cross was met by Crouch's head from close range. The Russian had been brought into the side at the expense of Jermain Defoe, and Pavlyuchenko's willingness to drop a little deeper helped set up the second as well. He fed Luka Modric and the Croatian, easy as you like, drifted past a couple of defenders and shot between Asmir Begovic's legs.

That should havebeen that, with Stoke seemingly in self-preservation mode, one week before their date at Wembley to play Bolton in their first FA Cup semi-final in four decades. Then again, this is a team that prides itself on its commitment, and with a few first-team places up for grabs at Wembley, some sort of response was inevitable.

Stoke's first goal was, nevertheless, a surprise. Having barely registered a shot in the first 25 minutes, Michael Dawson and Vedran Corluka left a ball for each other and Matthew Etherington stole in. Younès Kaboul was unable to catch the winger, who ran 50 yards and shot precisely past Heurelho Gomes.

Spurs' third goal was the best of a game that was becoming increasingly open and frantic. An excellent move saw Benoît Assou-Ekotto spread the play to the opposite wing to Corluka. The full-back had Tom Huddlestone in support, and the midfielder's first-time cross found Crouch, who directed his header across Begovic. "I'm pleased for Crouchy," Redknapp said. "I wasn't sure what reaction he would get from the crowd." Strangely, Corluka felt he was getting a raw deal from one supporter and tried to confront him after the final whistle, but was held back by Redknapp's support staff.

The third goal was simple, quick and efficient – the sort of move that would present a real threat to Jose Mourinho's side. Yet Tottenham are also a danger to themselves right now. After Crouch in Spain, here it was Gareth Bale. He was caught in possession by Andy Wilkinson and the ball ran for Kenwyne Jones who made good ground before curling an excellent left-foot shot into the top corner.

It was Stoke who looked more likely to score in the second half and five minutes after the interval, Jones crossed but Jonathan Walters, in front of an untended goal, could only get his thigh on the ball and direct it on to the post. Potters fans will be hoping there is no repeat next Sunday.

Attendance: 35,702

Referee: Kevin Friend

Man of the match: Modric

Match rating: 7/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'