Crouch own goal ends Tottenham’s Champions League hopes as City guarantee top four finish


TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp insists his side’s season should not be branded a failure after Manchester City ensured entry to the Champions League for the first time in their history at the expense of last season’s first time qualifiers.

Peter Crouch’s own goal after half an hour was the difference between the sides in a complete role reversal of last season’s corresponding fixture when the England striker’s goal meant Spurs, rather than City, embarked on a European adventure.

Spurs now face a fight to maintain fifth place and a shot at the Europa League next season – they travel to Anfield to meet in-form Liverpool at the weekend – but Redknapp insists he is proud of the way his team have performed this season.

“I take a lot of pride out of the season with the way we’ve performed – last eight of the Champions League – we’ve played fantastic football,” he said. “We’ve had Champions League football for the first time since the Premier League’s started and you’ve got to keep improving, it’s hard to get in.”

Despite their early dominance City struck moments after Luka Modric had missed the best opportunity of the first-half when he narrowly failed to steer his shot on target and beyond Joe Hart after Aaron Lennon’s cut-back had located the Croatia playmaker.

Spurs were caught out by a short corner routine at the other end almost immediately and when James Milner drilled low into the six-yard box Crouch inadvertently poked beyond Carlo Cudicini from almost the exact same spot he scored the goal which catapulted Spurs into the Champions League a year ago.

City retreated into their shells thereafter and were later able to give Carlos Tevez a runout as a substitute after a month out with a hamstring injury ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final against Stoke, who have now qualified for the Europa League as a consequence of last night’s result.

“When you have a target and get it, it is very important for your job, but I am happy for the supporters and the club first of all,” said City boss Roberto Mancini said. “We deserve to be in the Champions League because we were between first and fourth position all season.”