x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Spurs one win away from fourth

Tottenham have been used to playing in many major cup finals during their illustrious history - but few games will come any bigger than the Champions League decider against Manchester City.

Tottenham's Jermain Defoe, right, clears the ball from Bolton's Matthew Taylor.
Tottenham's Jermain Defoe, right, clears the ball from Bolton's Matthew Taylor.

LONDON // Tottenham have been used to playing in many major cup finals during their illustrious history - but few games will come any bigger than the Champions League decider against Manchester City on Wednesday night. The north London club have a famous cup tradition and they will need to recreate some of that magic once again if they are to achieve their dream of playing in the Europe's premier competition next season.

Tom Huddlestone's sensational strike against Bolton pushed them a step closer to securing the all-important fourth place and they now head to Eastlands knowing a victory will see them play in the Champions League next term. The north London club have often been accused of lacking mental strength when it matters most in recent years. Few can forget the famous "Lasagne-gate" incident back in 2006 when half the squad were struck down with food poisoning the night before their final game of the season and they failed to qualify for the Champions League following a defeat to West Ham.

But it seems to be a different case this time around and Spurs fans are daring to dream about the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid coming to White Hart Lane next season after Huddlestone's goal put them firmly in the driving seat to finish fourth. Tottenham are just a point above City with two games to play and face a huge game at Eastlands. A victory for Spurs on Wednesday can guarantee a place in the Champions League for the first time in the club's history.

Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, said: "It will feel like a cup final with the atmosphere. It's so important, that fourth place. "We've got international players so it's not like they are lacking experience. They've been around, in World Cups and big games. It shouldn't be a problem for them. No one wants to achieve it more than I do. "City are tough opposition. City's front two are a threat to anyone but we have good strikers too. I wouldn't want to go there and be negative.

"We have attacking midfielders and wingers so we won't change too much." You could sense the nerves among the home supporters in the first half with so much at stake but Huddlestone gave them something to shout about when he broke the deadlock in superb fashion on 37 minutes. Fans have been spoiled for choice when it comes to stunning goals at the Lane this season - none more so than Danny Rose's spectacular volley against Arsenal in the north London derby last month.

But Huddlestone came close to equalling that when he latched on to a ball from Benoit Assou-Ekotto and fired an unstoppable 25-yard right-foot shot which sailed past Jussi Jaaskelainen into the roof of the net. Bolton certainly made the home crowd sweat in the second half. Tottenham should have put the game beyond Bolton on 66 minutes when Gareth Bale saw his shot superbly saved by Jaaskelainen. And it could have been a different story for Spurs had Matthew Taylor not seen his shot cleared off the line by Younes Kaboul on 67 minutes while Heurelho Gomes made a stunning late save to deny Taylor's dipping volley from the edge of the box.

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