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Crouch's own goal hands City CL spot

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OH NO! Peter Crouch's moment of horror, an own-goal, handed Man. City the coveted fourth Champions League spot. — PHOTO: AFP
OH NO! Peter Crouch's moment of horror, an own-goal, handed Man. City the coveted fourth Champions League spot. — PHOTO: AFP

: Peter Crouch's own goal ensured Manchester City will make its 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 finalist City 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. With two games remaining, it could yet overtake third-placed Arsenal, which it trails by two points, and qualify for the group stages.

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

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

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

Carlo Cudicini, 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. Moments later, Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios was forced off.

The result: Manchester City 1 (Crouch 30-og) bt Tottenham Hotspur 0 . — AFP

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