Tottenham Hotspur FC ensured their UEFA Champions League adventure will go on into the new year as they secured their last-16 place with a comfortable victory against SV Werder Bremen.
Harry Redknapp's Group A leaders had too much for a depleted Bremen side and after first-half strikes by Younes Kaboul and Luka Modrić, Tim Wiese saved Gareth Bale's second-half penalty before Peter Crouch added a late third. Crouch's goal took Spurs level with Arsenal FC as the tournament's most prolific goalscorers with 15 from five games; no wonder the home fans were singing "Champions League, we're having a laugh".
While Spurs entered the contest on a high after winning at Arsenal, Bremen came to London struggling under the weight of an injury list in double figures and a morale-sapping run of five defeats in six. So stretched were the visitors' resources that coach Thomas Schaaf gave debuts to defender Dominik Schmidt and midfielder Felix Kroos, who were both playing third-division football for Bremen's reserves last weekend. It was no surprise they ended the night consigned to bottom place.
Tottenham were ahead after six minutes as Kaboul followed up his north London derby winner with a close-range volley. After Bremen had only half-cleared a corner, Aaron Lennon took the ball back into the box and crossed for Kaboul to finish. Spurs might have had a second as Roman Pavlyuchenko, starting in place of the injured Rafael van der Vaart, miscued his shot after Crouch had diverted Bale's cross back to the Russian.
By then, Spurs had lost Jermaine Jenas to injury, Wilson Palacios replacing him, and they were struggling to reproduce the high-tempo football that had marked their first two home wins in the group. A sloppy clearance by Lennon presented Marko Marin, Bremen's liveliest player, with a shooting opportunity but his effort trickled wide. Instead Spurs doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time. Crouch got his head to Alan Hutton's cross and the ball dropped to Modrić who wrong-footed Sebastian Prödl before steering the ball past Wiese on the half-volley.
Tottenham did everything but score a third at the start of the second half. Bale curled a free-kick on to the bar, Crouch headed Bale's far-post cross against Prödl on the goal line, and then Bale saw his tame spot kick stopped by Wiese after Kroos had tripped Modrić. The chances kept coming, though, and in the 79th minute, after Bale's cross had come off the woodwork, Lennon picked up the loose ball and evaded Schmidt before teeing up Crouch to slot in.
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