TOTTENHAM boss Harry Redknapp insisted his side fully deserved their place in the top four after a late Peter Crouch header earned them victory in a nail-biting Champions League decider at Eastlands.
England striker Crouch pounced to nod past Marton Fulop from close range in the 82nd minute, after the outstanding on-loan goalkeeper had parried a fierce driven cross by Younes Kaboul.
The only goal of a fraught, absorbing contest ensured Spurs, not Manchester City, will join Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal as England’s entrants in next year’s Champions League, and is likely to earn them in the region of £50m.
City, meanwhile, have seen a golden opportunity to muscle into the Premier League’s elite slip through their fingers, despite using their unrivalled spending power to lure some of the game’s biggest names.
“It’s fantastic,” said Redknapp. “It’s been a terrific season for us, we’ve played some great football and we deserve it. It was great to come here and win. I took a big gamble tonight and played an attacking team. I’m very pleased. It’s great for the club, a good achievement and we have played great football this year.”
Spurs face a qualifying round before they reach the riches of the Champions League group stage, unless Arsenal lose to Fulham on Sunday, allowing Redknapp’s men to pinch third place.
“I doubt very much whether that will happen,” he added. “I’m just very happy to finish fourth, that’s where we wanted to be.”
It looked for 80 minutes as if Fulop, signed on loan by City outside the transfer window, would controversially prove to be the hero of the hour, after he produced superb stops to deny Jermain Defoe and then Crouch.
Crouch also headed against a post in the first 20 minutes, after City had started brighter, and heroic captain Ledley King thought he had scored only for his header to be disallowed.
City faded late on but had looked dangerous, and Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes continued his fine form by tipping Adam Johnson’s 20-yard drive wide and then clawing away an effort that ricocheted goalwards off Spurs full-back Gareth Bale.
Mancini brushes off sacking talk
CRESTFALLEN Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini rubbished suggestions he could be sacked for failing to reach the Champions League.
Asked whether he was staying, the Italian said: “Yes I’m confident. I don’t know but I think I stay here.
“I work here four or five months and when you build a house you don't start from the roof but the basement.”