TOTTENHAM finally took their place at the top table of European football last night – and ensured London has three clubs in the Champions League for the first time – but all manager Harry Redknapp wanted by way of celebration was a bacon sandwich.
A hat-trick from Peter Crouch and a goal from strike partner Jermain Defoe emphatically overturned Young Boys’ slender first-leg advantage and guaranteed Spurs a place in the group stage for the first time in the competition’s history.
Victory rained joy onto a sodden White Hart Lane and earned the club a £20m windfall as Redknapp became the first man to lead the club into the European Cup since the iconic Bill Nicholson in 1961.
But the east Londoner, whose team join Chelsea and Arsenal in the last 32, shunned a night of champagne-fuelled jubilation that few would have begrudged him in favour of more homely, quintessentially English treats.
“I will probably just go home, have a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea, that is all I want,” he said. “I always felt it was possible. Tottenham were a club which had underachieved for a long time.”
A third London team in the group stages will increase hopes that a side from the capital can lift the European Cup for the first time – particularly with the final in May to be played at Wembley.
But hero Crouch is only looking as far as the next round, and is eager to test himself against the continent’s elite. “That’s why we worked so hard last season,” he said. “We want massive games. We want Real Madrid and Inter Milan.”
Defoe admitted controlling the ball with his arm before driving Spurs’ second goal in off the post. “It was handball for my goal, yes,” he said. “The linesman didn’t see it, though, and sometimes it goes your way.”
Winger Gareth Bale was outstanding, setting up three goals, including Crouch’s first inside five minutes.
Nerves settled, Defoe added a second before half-time and Crouch ended the contest by meeting Bale’s corner on the hour. A trip on Bale earned Senad Lulic a red card and allowed Crouch – the man whose goal against Manchester City secured Tottenham’s place in the top four – to complete his hat-trick with a penalty.
Capital clubs’ feat is rare achievement
LONDON is only the second city ever to boast three teams in the Champions League group stages in the same season. The last time the feat was managed was in 2003-04 when Athens was represented by Olympiacos, Panathinaikos and AEK.
Sadly, however, it proved a season to forget for the sides from the Greek capital after all three failed to make it past the group stages.
Panathinaikos were the only one of the trio able to avoid bottom spot in their group. Olympiacos were drubbed 7-0 by Juventus while AEK earned just two points and scored only one goal.
Teams prepare to learn fate in Euro group stage draw
CHELSEA, Manchester United and Arsenal will all be among the top seeds when the draw for the Champions League group stage takes place this afternoon.
That will see them avoid big-hitters such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC?Milan and reigning champions Inter Milan, who will also be in Pot One when the groups are decided in Monaco at 5pm BST.
Tottenham will be drawn from Pot Three, meaning they will not play Rangers or the likes of Ajax, Schalke and Spartak Moscow.
But the team everyone will want to avoid is Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid, who look to be the strongest team in Pot Two.
Teams cannot be drawn against other from the same pot or the same country, so Spurs cannot face any of their Premier League rivals until the knockout stage.
The seedings are based on a ranking system calculated using performances in continental competition over the last five seasons.