By William Wood | In Match Reports - Home Games
Manchester City’s Champions League hopes were extinguished at the City of Manchester Stadium as Peter Crouch’s late winner handed Tottenham Hotspur fourth-place in the Premier League.
Despite talk of Champions League play-off game at the of the domestic season in England has been refuted in recent years, this game was as close to one as they come with Spurs hanging on to the much-coveted final qualifying spot for Europe’s elite competition.
An estimated £30 million – £60 million was at stake, with Roberto Mancini’s men hoping to overcome the North Londoners and overtake them in the league, and a lively crowd at Eastlands kick-started a frantic encounter.
Carlos Tevez weaved his way passed four Spurs players before firing in a low drive, with Heurelho Gomes equal to it, and he earned City a corner after another run as the hosts looked to grab the early advantage.
From another set-piece, Gareth Bale’s in-swinging corner found Peter Crouch at the back post, but the England international’s header rebounded off the woodwork when in truth he should have hit the back of the net.
The visiting support were on the feet again minutes later as Ledley King did beat Martin Fulop in City’s goal, only for the goal to be disallowed as the Spurs captain was adjudged to have climbed on Gareth Barry.
Adam Johnson – who will have impressed Fabio Capello with another lively display – was next up to go close as his well-struck effort from 25-yards forced a save from Gomes, and his full technical expertise was required again soon after as the ball struck Bale and almost went in.
Though possession was evening out, Spurs will certainly have believed they should have been in front, especially when Bale spurned another opportunity following good work by Aaron Lennon and Crouch, though the young left-back did tremendously well to even direct his shot goalwards.
A frantic first-half was brought to a close with the score still level, and when the teams returned Jermain Defoe – otherwise quiet up until that point – was first up to threaten the score-line, though Fulop did superbly to deflect the shot wide.
The former West Ham man then misjudged a ball played across City’s six-yard box, as did Crouch, as Harry Redknapp’s side began to turn the screw.
Crouch was then guilty of missing another effort as Bale’s ball picked him out, only for the striker to head straight down into Fulop, and had he not scored minutes later the visiting fans may have been pointing the finger.
As it was, Crouch retained his compsure to grab a late winner for the away side to cement their position in fourth and condemn City to at best fifth-place and the Europa League.
Younes Kaboul’s well-struck shot was saved by Fulop, but Crouch was on hand to knock the ball home and silence the City of Manchester Stadium.
The misery could have been compounded as Roman Pavlyuchenko spurned a late chance, but Redknapp will have let the Russian off as he and his staff celebrated a fine season at the expense of City.
Man City: None
Tottenham: Crouch (82’)
Man City: Fulop, Zabaleta, Toure, Kompany, Bridge, Adam Johnson, De Jong, Barry, Bellamy, Tevez, Adebayor Subs: Nielsen, Richards, Onuoha, Wright-Phillips, Santa Cruz, Sylvinho, Vieira
Tottenham: Gomes, Kaboul, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Huddlestone, Modric, Bale, Crouch, Defoe Subs: Alnwick, Bentley, Jenas, Pavlyuchenko, Palacios, Gudjohnsen, Bassong