- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 05 May 2010 22:05
- Posted by Chris Bailey
Spurs will play in the Champions League next season after securing their 12th win in 13 attempts against City.
The reward for the Blues best ever Premier League season in terms of position and points will be a place in the Europa League
Peter Crouch administered the fatal blow eight minutes from time in a titanic arm-wrestle that had nerve ends frayed for its entirety.
If mad scientists, complete with thick comedy goggles, had slaved over heated test tubes for a month they couldn’t have come up with a more bubbling atmosphere than the one on offer at the seething mass of humanity that was the City of Manchester Stadium.
Inflatables, giant flags, heroes from yesteryear and 45,000 raucous and raw voices made the early evening special.
It deserved a better ending than a second defeat of the season to Harry Redknapp’s side though in truth the Londoners created the better chances after the break.
But how City fans responded to the manager’s call to arms, the former Commonwealth Games stadium can seldom have heard such gold medal backing
Unfortunately, all the lusty exhortations of the hollering hordes in Blue were to no avail and now fifth place is the best on offer.
All season the ‘Holy Grail’ of a place in the Champions League has simultaneously appeared tantalisingly close at hand yet frustratingly far away; then suddenly it was hovering around the Blues stadium awaiting the most aspiring hands to grab and cherish it. Those digits sadly belonged to Tottenham.
Statistics were not in Roberto Mancini side’s favour. The Cockerel arrived with its chest puffed out and its feathers flapping.
Tottenham had won 11 of the last 12 meetings between the two sides in all competitions, and 10 of the last 11 in the Premier League they had also taken care of Arsenal and Chelsea to move themselves into favouritism for fourth spot.
City's only league win against Spurs in the last seven years was the 2-1 home victory in March 2008. City's scorers that day were Stephen Ireland and Nedum Onuoha neither of whom featured in the starting eleven.
Onuoha, who has been in scoring form recently, was amongst the substitutes along with Patrick Vieira whose man of the match performance against Villa failed to keep him in the side. In his stead returned Gareth Barry who was pronounced fit after his hamstring strain.
Pace and panache were there aplenty as City raced out of the traps like a greyhound with its lengthy tail on fire
They scurried hither and thither with a purpose and a passion that more than matched that in the stands but were unable to find the net.
It was the visitors who came closest to scoring in the first quarter when Crouch struck the outside of the post in the 18th minute from Bale’s free kick. Shortly afterwards Ledley King had a ‘goal’ chalked off for a foul on Barry as Spurs showed their attacking capability.
During the home side’s purple patch a 20-yarder from Johnson had Gomes at full stretch to his left. The Brazilian was in action again low down to the same corner after it looked like Bale might open the scoring with an own goal. Kolo Toure was then too high with a free header at the height of the Blues domination.
City lost Barry ten minutes into the second half with a new injury and he was replaced by Vieira. Spurs ought to have seen the back of Tom Huddlestone too for an attempted stamp on Nigel de Jong that brought only a yellow card and stern lecture from referee Bennett.
In between time Defoe forced a fine save from Fulop and the ball flashed across both goalmouths without anyone getting the final touch. But ominously it was the visitors who carved out the best chances.
Fulop was City’s saviour again in the 77th minute with a point blank effort from Crouch’s header but his heroics were in vain for nothing happened at the other end to really threaten Gomes and then after Fulop beat out Bentley’s cross in the 82nd minute Crouch stooped to conquer.