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Spurs v BSC Young Boys, 25.08.10



Crouch, 5, 61, 78 (pen)
Defoe, 32

Attendance:- 34,709

Referee:- Mr. Laurent Duhamel
Assistants:- Mr Stephane Duhamel, Mr. Christopher Capelli
Fourth Official:- Mr. Herve Piccinillo
Additional Assistants:- Mr. Fredy Fautrel & Mr. Anthony Gautier
(All officials from France)

Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes (sub Cudicini, 46); Corluka, Dawson, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Palacios, Bale (sub Kranjcar, 82); Defoe (sub Pavlyuchenko, 62), Crouch

Subs not used:- Kaboul; Jenas, Giovani; Keane

Booked:- Palacios, Pavlyuchenko

Young Boys (4-1-4-1):- Wolfli (Capt.); Sutter (sub Regazzoni, 62), Affolter, Jemal, Spycher; Doubai (sub C. Schneuwly, 82); Degen, Hochstrasser, Costanzo (sub M. Schneuwly, 61), Lulic; Bienvenu

Subs not used:- R Burki, A De Pierro, M Raimondi, E Mayuka

Booked:- Lulic (foul on Huddlestone), Degen

Sent off (2nd yellow):- Lulic, 76 (foul on Bale to concede the penalty)

Crouch carves his name in Spurs history.

Peter Crouch carved his name in Spurs history with a hat-trick that secured Spurs’ passage to the group stages of the Champions League for the first time. Crouch has earnt his place in the record books not only with this feat, but also for scoring the crucial goal at Eastlands in May that gained Spurs their place in this Champions League qualifying play-off game. Crouch wins the headlines, but there really were 14 excellent individual performances and a magnificent team effort on a great night for Tottenham Hotspur.

It was a very, very special feeling to enter the White Hart Lane stadium last night to see the stands decked out in the Champions League insignia, and the pitch surrounded by the various sponsors advertisement boards. There was even a door or two in one of these boards in front of the dug-out for use when anyone wanted to enter the technical area! Spurs had issued flags to all seats, and to hear the Champions League theme played in our ground for the first time was emotional indeed. The flags were waved and an incredible noise was created by the home fans. In fairness the Young Boys fans, who occupied the top tier of the south-west corner played their part and held their yellow and black scarves high. Those fans continued to sing for their team throughout the game, even when the tie was clearly lost. One of their songs aimed at Spurs fans was “You only sing when you’re winning”. Well, we did sing, and we were winning after 5 minutes, never looking back!

Harry Redknapp fielded his strongest team, with his intentions clear by playing Lennon and Bale on the flanks. Ledley King proudly led his beloved Spurs onto the pitch, and Spurs strutted all night. Young Boys fielded an unchanged team but a different formation, with Doubai policing the back of midfield and four across the middle behind Bienvenu. Young Boys won an early free kick which was cleared into the path of Aaron Lennon to make a dash down the right wing. Lennon was cynically halted which illustrated a trend to some degree as the visitors tried to allow no quarter when Spurs went on the attack. It didn’t help that the referee was unusually lenient in my limited experience of watching European football.

Lennon then won a corner after 4 minutes, and Gareth Bale swung in two successive kicks in front of the visiting fans. The second of these went to the back post, where Crouch rose and headed simply and accurately across the keeper into the net for a dream start! Crouch’s other open play goal was also simple in nature. Spurs were playing controlled but effective football, defending stoutly, but breaking effectively and creating plenty of opportunities for Crouch and Defoe. Incidentally the south of England was absolutely drenched on the day, and it rained all night at The Lane.

Having taken the lead, Spurs settled and withstood any territorial gains by the visitors who did not threaten Gomes’ goal directly. Gomes seemed to stretch his hamstring (not for the first time) and looked as if he needed replacing quite early, but held out until half-time, with Dawson taking his kicks and the defence successfully protecting him. There were one or two scary moments provided by Wilson Palacios who lost or mis-placed the ball too often for comfort, but he or his colleagues retrieved the situation.

One of the special performances for me came from left Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who receives quite a bit of stick from various quarters. He was not replaced last week because of any inefficiencies, but because he had taken an early booking, and Harry needed to try something different tactically. Ekotto defended with his usual panache but also got forward to good effect in tandem with Gareth Bale down the left flank. Corluka was offering similar support to Lennon. It was Ekotto who hit a belter of a shot after 19 minutes, after a Bale free kick taken on the right was half cleared. Ekotto’s shot was beaten away (possibly quite literally) as Spurs fans bayed for a handball, but the referee simply let the Young Boys’ defender receive treatment for his sensitive injury. Tom Huddlestone had a great opportunity after 23 minutes, when Crouch headed down another Spurs free kick, but Tom just couldn’t make correct contact with the ball.

Mid-way through the half, Michael Dawson gave Huddlestone a difficult pass, as the midfielder was being tightly marked by three opponents. Hudd dealt well with the ball, spreading the play to Ekotto who was in space and able to lead the attack.

Spurs scored a second goal after Lennon and Corluka had put the Young Boys defence under great pressure down the right flank. The ball reached Gareth Bale outside the box in a central position, and he threaded the ball to Defoe. There was a suggestion of handball, but no whistle for any infringement as Jermain coolly fired past the keeper with his left foot, scoring off the post to send the crowd into raptures. Ironically, the game situation had not changed, because the visitors still needed just two goals to win the tie. Defoe had an excellent opportunity after a great pull back by Lennon, but the striker hit his shot right footed across the goal.

Spurs had some serious defending to do before the break, with Michael Dawson blocking a goal-bound shot by Doubai, then Hochstrasser firing the follow-up shot wide. Gomes was now struggling with his movement and failed to come for a cross by Degen, which Bienvenu headed wide. It came as a relief to see Carlo Cudicini enter the fray after the break. Carlo’s handling was great, and he did have a couple of sharp saves to make during the second half. His come-back from last year’s quite horrific crash has been consummated in his form in this game and the pre-season.

Spurs broke from defence in typical fashion after 49 minutes, when Dawson headed down to Palacios who gave Lennon a run. Aaron flew down the outside of his defender and fed Bale who fired a shot agonisingly just wide across the goal. Lulic, who had taken a first half booking crossed from the left and Bienvenu’s shot was well held by Cudicini diving, stretching and reaching los to his right. Bale gave Defoe a great ball and a great chance, but a defender just got in front of Defoe to head clear for a corner, from which Ledley’s header was blocked, reached Crouch, who should have scored, but whose shot was somehow saved by the Young Boys’ keeper and skipper, Marco Wolfli. Crouch did score a second goal though in the 61st minute, with a straightforward header from a Bale corner, won by that man Lennon. Now the game was surely secure!

Young Boys coach Vladimir Petkovic responded with a couple of substitutions, and with nothing to lose his team did have a go in front of their exuberant fans. Local boy Scott Sutter was one of those substitutions and received generous applause from the knowledgeable home fans. Spurs took off Jermain Defoe for Roman Pavlyuchenko, and I have now heard mixed messages about whether or not Defoe will be having his groin operation. Pavlyuchenko almost immediately saw yellow for a rash challenge.

Another lovely piece of Spurs football came with a great ball down the line by Tom Huddlestone, the ball went inside the defender and just stayed in play for Lennon, who ended his run with a chipped cross that Gareth Bale headed, only to see the keeper make another save.

After 76 minutes, Ekotto gave Bale a run down the left, and Gareth arrowed into the box only to be brought down by Lulic. It looked as if the referee was giving nothing and I do think that the goal-line official gave the decision for him, as after a delay the referee whistled and signalled the penalty, then booked Lulic for the second time to also show the red. Crouchie wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to go for his hat-trick, and hit the ball hard and low to reserve the match ball.

More good football from Spurs saw Huddlestone on the run carrying the ball, ending with a shot that the keeper held. Gareth Bale was replaced by Kranjcar after 82 minutes and received a great and deserved ovation. Pavlyuchenko chased and gained a long ball down the left channel, crossing for Crouch, whose shot was parried and cleared. Substitute Regazzoni had one last pop at goal for Young Boys but it was all over and Spurs had completed one of their great “Glory Nights”, and can look forward to today’s draw and 6 group games between September and December. Maybe Harry and Mr Levy have a signing or two up their sleeve between now and next Tuesday too!

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