Manchester City qualify for Champions League

Peter Crouch's own goal ensured Manchester City will make their debut in the Champions League next season as Roberto Mancini's side overcame Tottenham 1-0 at Eastlands on Tuesday.

Updated: May 11, 2011 11:48 IST
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Manchester: Peter Crouch's own goal ensured Manchester City will make their debut in the Champions League next season as Roberto Mancini's side overcame Tottenham 1-0 at Eastlands on Tuesday.

England striker Crouch broke City's hearts last season by scoring the winner which denied City a place at the top table of European football.

But in a huge twist of fate, Crouch put past his own keeper while trying to clear a 30th minute cross by James Milner to guarantee FA Cup finalists City's a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Mancini's men are at the very least guaranteed a play-off place in the Champions League. Yet with two games remaining, they could yet overtake third-placed Arsenal, who they trail by two points, and qualify for the group stages. Also read: Mancini all praise for his team

Indeed City captain Vincent Kompany said they would target finishing third as Arsenal's form has tapered off.

"It (the win) doesn't mean we are in the Champions League as we would have to play the qualifying round," said the Belgian international.

"So why not get Arsenal? We feel they may drop points and we will get six points."

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said it was disappointing to miss out on a second successive Champions League campaign but he was happy overall with their season.

"You need to keep improving and we had a bad run at the wrong time," he said.

"But I take a lot of pride out of the season and I enjoy watching us play which is the main thing."

It was not a vintage City performance by any means.

Luka Modric should have put Tottenham ahead moments before Crouch settled the fourth-versus-sixth showdown.

And it required a stunning save by City's England keeper Joe Hart to keep out substitute Steven Pienaar's header in the opening moments of the second half.

But they just about did enough to secure victory ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final with Stoke at Wembley, where City will attempt to secure their first piece of major silverware for 35 years.

Tottenham have endured such a decline since their elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid last month that their main priority now is to beat Liverpool to fifth spot.

Redknapp's side cannot wait for the season to finish after winning just one of the last 10 league games.

They were grateful to Carlo Cudicini for keeping them on level terms in the early exchanges.

Cudicini was starting his first game for four months in place of Heurelho Gomes, whose form has been suspect yet the official reason given for his absence was a back injury.

Cudicini grasped his opportunity, the former Chelsea stopper saving well from Edin Dzeko's fiercely struck 11th minute effort after intelligent play by David Silva had teed-up the Bosnian.

Aaron Lennon picked out a fine pass to Modric before the Croatian let fly with an effort which should have found the target but fizzed narrowly wide.

It was a costly miss as City immediately swept forward to take the lead.

Attempting to clear Milner's cross into the danger area, Crouch only succeeded in deflecting the ball past Cudicini.

Tottenham's problems went from bad to worse. Moments later Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios was forced off.

Yet the visitors would have been level but for a stunning one-handed save by Hart to keep out Pienaar's powerful header in the opening moments of the second half.

City produced a nervous second half display yet they would have doubled their lead two minutes from the end had William Gallas not headed substitute Patrick Vieira's goalbound effort off the line.

Another boost for the hosts came in the shape of Carlos Tevez, the Argentina striker playing the final seven minutes after missing the previous four games with a damaged hamstring.

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