Dimitar Berbatov was humbled to be cheered off by all four corners of the BayArena last night after his goal gave Tottenham Hotspur FC victory against his former employers Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
The Bulgaria striker had barely acknowledged his feat of scoring the only goal of the night on 36 minutes as a mark of respect to the club he served with distinction for five and a half seasons until last May. The striker followed up to score from close range after Jörg Butt had saved Aaron Lennon's effort. It was his fourth in three UEFA Cup group-stage matches to confirm the English club’s qualification for the last 32 with a game to spare.
In all 24 clubs will move through from this phase to be joined by the eight UEFA Champions League teams, and the road to this season's final in Glasgow is tipped to be the toughest yet. Recognising the importance of the night meant Berbatov had to put aside emotion. "It was hard for the club but it was even harder for me," said Berbatov, who was given a standing ovation when replaced by Mido with 14 minutes to play. "That is why I didn't celebrate my goal. The crowd here have always been special to me and it was very flattering to hear them applaud me off the pitch."
Tottenham manager Martin Jol was extremely satisfied with his striker's contribution. "Every time we play in Europe he is outstanding," he said. "In the league he's not there yet but he has all the talent - we are pretty confident he will be the same player he was in Germany for his last two or three seasons. The UEFA Cup has been a great experience for us and these wins are good for the confidence of the team." Tottenham will conclude their Group B campaign at home against FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti on 14 December.
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