Crouch Champions League treble sees off Swiss

Tottenham Hotspur 4 Young Boys 0 <i>(Tottenham win 6-3 on aggregate)</i>

Ben Rumsby,Pa Sport
Wednesday 25 August 2010 21:50

Tottenham hit the Champions League jackpot tonight as they finally put Young Boys in their place to reach the group stage for the first time in their history.

Spurs were on the brink of utter humiliation in Bern eight days ago, 3-0 down and all at sea on their opponents' plastic pitch.

Having somehow scrambled two away goals and back on the green, green grass of home, Harry Redknapp's men demonstrated the true gulf in class that exists between fourth place in the Barclays Premier League and second in the Swiss Super League.

But Spurs' claim to what will be a £20million-plus cash bonanza was not achieved without controversy on a night of torrential rain at an electric White Hart Lane.

Jermain Defoe, set to undergo a groin operation, blatantly controlled the ball with his arm to score the second goal that all but killed the contest.

There were echoes of Thierry Henry's scandalous handball that saw France reach the World Cup at the expense of the Republic of Ireland.

But Tottenham fans will rightly point out their side were already ahead in the tie on away goals thanks to Peter Crouch, who went on to complete a hat-trick, while it could have been much, much worse for the hapless visitors, who had Senad Lulic sent off.

Young Boys were simply unable to cope with Crouch, who scored two unmarked headers and a penalty to edge the man-of-the-match honours ahead of Gareth Bale, whose four assists surely make him man of the season so far.

Harry Redknapp had ordered his side to hit Young Boys just as hard and fast tonight as Spurs had been in Bern and they duly obliged.

After conceding inside four minutes last week, they were in front within five this evening.

And it was not only the weather which was atrocious as the visitors failed to deal with Bale's corner, giving the in-form Welshman another chance to deliver a cross for the unmarked Crouch to nod home.

Spurs pushed for a second, Aaron Lennon giving Christoph Spycher a particular headache.

But, unlike last week, the floodgates failed to open, Benoit Assou-Ekotto's piledriver blocked painfully by Ammar Jemal and Tom Huddlestone miscuing a Crouch cross.

All that changed just past the half hour mark thanks to Defoe's sleight of hand, the striker's arm controlling Bale's ball before his left foot whipped it into the net.

The six pairs of officials' eyes on him somehow failed to spot the offence, with Young Boys defender Jemal's furious protests waved away.

Defoe, who is set to go under the knife next week, almost killed the tie legitimately moments later, screwing wide after being released by Lennon.

Lulic earned a needless yellow card as Young Boys' discipline understandably began to waver.

But they soon channelled their frustration to positive effect, Henri Bienvenu completely miscuing a great headed chance to pull a goal back.

Heurelho Gomes had needed lengthy treatment on a leg injury early in the game and he failed to re-emerge after half-time, Carlo Cudicini making his first appearance since a serious motorcycle accident in November.

The downpour had become a deluge but Tottenham continued to cope the better.

The outstanding Bale almost curled a free-kick straight in from wide on the right.

Wilson Palacios was booked for a bad tackle and Bienvenu almost capitalised on a slip from Michael Dawson.

After that, it was all Spurs, Spycher making a vital clearance with Defoe poised to pounce and King and Crouch both seeing efforts blocked after a corner.

But Crouch made it 3-0 on the hour mark, again rising unchallenged to head in Bale's corner.

The inevitable substitutions followed, including Defoe for Roman Pavyluchenko, who was immediately booked for a poor challenge.

Bale came agonisingly close to the goal his performance deserved before being cut down in the area by Lulic, who saw yellow for a second time.

Up stepped Crouch to complete his hat-trick from the spot and - after Bale was replaced by Niko Kranjcar to a standing ovation - the striker was denied his fourth by a brilliant save from Marco Wolfli.

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