Huddlestone screamer makes Spurs' claims loud and clear

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

The match between Tottenham and Manchester City on Wednesday night has, for a few weeks now, been seen as a shoot-out for the last available place in the Champions' League. As that date has approached, the results of both teams have not changed that situation. Thanks to Tom Huddlestone's outstanding strike yesterday, and City's win against Aston Villa, it will be all eyes on Eastlands.

Not that Huddlestone was the only Spurs player deserving of his teammates' thanks for this nervy victory. Heurelho Gomes, who stopped Arsenal from claiming a draw or possibly winning here almost three weeks ago, produced an excellent save from Matt Taylor's volley three minutes from time to guarantee that Spurs will go into Wednesday's encounter with a one-point advantage.

Should Tottenham win that game, then they will participate in Europe's premier competition for the first time in almost half a century, after they won the Football League in 1961. If the game with City were to finish in a draw – which is a distinct possibility – then Spurs will go to Burnley on Sunday knowing a win will put them in Europe's elite.

For the home fans, as Spurs failed to put a decisive stop to Bolton's stubborn challenge, the second half must have felt as if it lasted 50 years, if not an eternity. Not least when Younes Kaboul, with Gomes (below) dragged out of position, cleared Taylor's shot after 68 minutes off the goalline, before Taylor then brought the best out of the Brazilian with his attempt from 18 yards. Gomes's emergence as a top-class goalkeeper has been key to Spurs' challenge.

This game was not in the same vein as Spurs' wins over Arsenal and, two weeks ago, against Chelsea, although how they would have loved to open up a two-goal lead against Owen Coyle's men, with so much at stake over the next week. The hosts could have done with preserving some energy.

Huddlestone's effort had been a long time coming against a side with nothing left to play for, Bolton having guaranteed their safety some time ago. Indeed, Huddlestone had had to wait a very long time – since November, against Sunderland – for his second League goal of the season. "A wonder goal," Coyle called it. Benoit Assou-Ekotto rolled a pass sideways and Huddlestone struck it from 25 yards with some curl that sent it arcing into the top corner.

That was not the cue for an onslaught on Jussi Jaaskelainen's goal, although Huddlestone tried his luck again from 25 yards. Gareth Bale, scorer of the winning goals against Chelsea and Arsenal, had been less visible in the first half yesterday but after the interval he could have made it a personal hat-trick. Jermain Defoe, whose goalscoring form has dipped recently, turned provider as he slipped a neat pass inside Gretar Steinsson, but Bale's shot was too close to Jaaskelainen and the Finn pushed it away.

Bale was now coming more to the fore despite Steinsson's close attention, and Pavlyu-chenko was a fraction away from turning in the Welshman's volleyed cross.

If Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, is considering changes for the City game – and here he decided to drop Wilson Palacios from the line-up that lost to Manchester United last week – then Peter Crouch could come in for Defoe. Crouch, a late substitute, went closer to scoring than Defoe did, but his header was cleared off the line by Lee Chung-Yong.

Redknapp is perhaps feeling the pressure more than he wanted to let on. He contradicted himself afterwards, saying: "I'm not getting too excited about the Champions' League," but adding, "No one wants to get there more than me." One thing is sure: he will need a clear head on Wednesday.

Referee: C Foy

Man of the match: Gomes

Match rating: 6/10

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living