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Crouch leads Spurs into promised land

Tottenham Hotspur FC 4-0 BSC Young Boys (agg: 6-3)
A Peter Crouch hat-trick and a Jermain Defoe strike propelled the home side into the group stage for the first time.

Peter Crouch fired Spurs into an early lead at White Hart Lane
Peter Crouch fired Spurs into an early lead at White Hart Lane ©Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur FC will contest the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time in their history after a Peter Crouch hat-trick spurred their recovery from a 3-2 first-leg defeat away against BSC Young Boys.

A fourth-minute opener hampered Spurs' chances in Berne last week, but it was the London club's turn to make the immediate impact this time around, Crouch calming nerves by heading his side in front on away goals. Jermain Defoe then boosted their advantage before Crouch added a third from a corner and a fourth from the spot, leaving Spurs fans free to concentrate on Thursday's group-stage draw in Monaco. Young Boys supporters will have to wait an additional day to learn their UEFA Europa League group-stage fate.

Harry Redknapp had urged Tottenham to "swarm all over" their opponents at White Hart Lane and the Premier League outfit quickly obeyed, taking the lead after just five minutes as Gareth Bale collected a partially cleared corner and looped the ball to the far post, where the unmarked Crouch stooped to nod back across Marco Wölfli and into the net.

That put the home side ahead for the first time in the tie and they temporarily allowed their pressure levels to drop, until a pair of Benoît Assou-Ekotto attempts – the first blocked by Ammar Jemal – hinted at further danger ahead. Having struggled to keep hold of the ball, Vladimir Petković's visitors slipped further behind when Defoe collected a lofted pass from Bale, shook off Jemal's attentions and crashed a low shot in off the post.

Scheduled for groin surgery next week, Defoe followed up by screwing a promising chance wide, before Xavier Hochstrasser did likewise with Young Boys' first opening at the other end. Henri Bienvenu fared little better with a free header before the break and the Swiss club's lone striker was then thwarted by Carlo Cudicini after it, the substitute goalkeeper having replaced the injured Heurelho Gomes at half-time.

There was slightly more purpose to Young Boys' play following the interval, but their task was soon rendered even more daunting, Crouch heading in from Bale's corner and then slotting in from the spot after the Welsh international had been brought down by Senad Lulić. Lulić was sent back to the dressing room with a second yellow card for that challenge, and his team-mates must have been similarly dispirited when they joined him.