Aaron Lennon kept Tottenham on course for a fourth-placed finish in the Barclays Premiership while also showing his international credentials to England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, who was in the stands at White Hart Lane.
Lennon scored the only goal of the game against a Bolton outfit who at times looked likely to snatch the three points they needed for their own European quest.
Sam Allardyce's men were also denied a penalty in the late stages when Stelios Giannakopoulos was hauled down in the area by Michael Dawson.
The win, however, means Spurs will finish ahead of Arsenal if they win their final game of the season, at West Ham next week.
Of course, Arsenal will deny their rivals a place in the Champions League if they lift Europe's elite club competition next month - but Martin Jol's team are keeping up their end of the bargain.
The winner on the hour mark displayed all the attributes that have had Lennon earmarked as a possible late selection for England's World Cup squad this summer.
Receiving the ball from a delicious long Danny Murphy pass to the right flank, Lennon fed Michael Carrick on the edge of the area.
Carrick held the ball up and gave it back to former Leeds winger Lennon, who surged into the area and finished confidently into the far corner.
Eriksson was among the crowd at White Hart Lane but he watched Tottenham's other international hopefuls struggle initially.
Carrick did forge the first opportunity of the afternoon, pinching the ball off Hidetoshi Nakata in the third minute before surging forward and forcing a foul by Tal Ben Haim, but it was a rare attack of fluency.
Referee Alan Wiley booked Ben Haim for the foul and Murphy - who replaced the suspended Edgar Davids in the Spurs starting line-up - was inaccurate with the set-piece.
Spurs looked to be missing the physical presence of Mido in attack, with the Egypt striker failing to recover from a knee complaint.
Jermain Defoe subsequently did little in the early stages to suggest he could lead the England attack should Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney fail to recover from foot injuries.
And it was Bolton who looked more threatening, producing the first real opportunity when Nakata's perfectly-executed volley rattled the frame of the goal after eight minutes.
Kevin Davies' cross to the far post was headed back by Jared Borgetti and Japan midfielder Nakata beat goalkeeper Paul Robinson but not the woodwork with his effort from the edge of the area.
As is their style, Bolton were direct when they attacked, although their midfielders also saw plenty of the ball.
They peppered Spurs' penalty area with long throw-ins and Ivan Campo swept an effort over the bar from one of them after a flick by Davies.
In the 31st minute, Davies picked up a caution from Wiley after a foul on Lee Young-Pyo, yet Bolton were undeterred and continued to press.
Gary Speed volleyed over from the edge of the area a minute later. Speed also threaded a cross behind the Spurs defence but none of his team-mates could get on the end of it.
Tottenham's frustration was illustrated by one of Carrick's passes getting blocked by referee Wiley, with the Spurs following growing restless as they searched for an opener.
Giannakopoulos then took advantage of fine work from Borgetti and Davies on the stroke of half-time, although the Greece international's shot appeared to by going wide before Dawson hacked away.
Spurs heroes Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were given an ovation by fans during the interval, with Jol taking off Robbie Keane for young striker Lee Barnard.
The hosts started the second period in lively fashion, with Teemu Tainio turning into space and getting his shot from long distance blocked.
From the resulting set-piece Ricardo Gardner had to clear off the line from Dawson, while Murphy volleyed just wide in the next move.
Spurs appeared to grow in confidence, with Lennon creating the next chance with a mazy dribble that finished with his shot clearing the crossbar from just outside the area.
Allardyce responded by taking off Jared Borgetti for Ricardo Vaz Te but it was still Tottenham who attacked, Tainio next to have an effort on goal but failing to get purchase on his shot.
Lennon then gave Spurs the lead on the hour mark with his moment of brilliance.
Allardyce was fuming with Wiley for failing to award his side a penalty for Dawson's challenge on Giannakopoulos, but Spurs looked stubborn in defence.
Jay-Jay Okocha, who had been brought on as Bolton chased the game, then forced a wonderful save from Robinson at full strength with 15 minutes remaining, his side's last chance to salvage a point.Reuse content