LONDON - Champions League debutants
Tottenham Hotspur did it the easy way for once by scoring an
emphatic 3-0 win over Werder Bremen at White Hart Lane on
Wednesday to qualify for the last 16 with a match to spare.
Spurs' performances in the play-off round and in their four
previous Group A matches have been full of unlikely fightbacks,
dramas and personal heroics, capturing the attention of Europe
because no one is ever quite sure what will happen next.
Their seven matches, including two in the playoff round,
have produced 32 goals.
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Wednesday's strikes from Younes Kaboul, who scored after six
minutes, Luka Modric on the stroke of half-time and Peter Crouch
with 11 minutes to go gave Spurs a straightforward, easy victory
over their injury-ravaged German opponents who were eliminated.
The only wobble came after 54 minutes when Gareth Bale, who
inspired Spurs to victory over European champions Inter Milan
earlier this month, had his penalty saved by Bremen goalkeeper
Apart from that, Spurs cruised into the last 16 and left
manager Harry Redknapp a happy man.
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"Overall, it was another great night for us," he said. "We
have played some great football here this season, scoring four
against Young Boys and Twente, three against Inter and three
"At first all I wanted to do was get through the play-offs,
and into the group stage. Now if we go to Twente in two weeks
and win we can finish top of the group and then I'd like to go
as far as possible."
Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf believed Spurs could progress as
well, saying: "They are a very good team with good individuals
and a good squad with a very good harmony. If they get a good
draw, they will go on."
Spurs are the joint-highest scorers in the competition with
15 goals, the same as their North London rivals Arsenal, and
have surprisingly qualified for the last 16 before Arsene
"I am sure the fans are loving that," Redknapp added. "But
it doesn't bother me too much as Arsenal will qualify by beating
Partizan Belgrade in their last match."
By scoring three goals for the fourth successive Champions
League match, Spurs equalled the feats of Juventus (1995/96) and
Bayern Munich (2008/09) as only the third team ever to do that.
In truth, Spurs could have had at least four more, such was
their dominance on the night, because as well as having his
penalty saved, Bale hit the bar twice and Crouch and Roman
Pavlyuchenko both went desperately close to scoring more.
Bremen arrived at White Hart Lane having lost five of their
last six matches in all competitions and mired in mid-table in
the Bundesliga and having conceded 10 goals in their last two
Bremen had nine players out injured, while a 10th, the
influential midfielder Torsten Frings, was suspended and their
inexperienced understudies struggled for most of the game.
The exception was Bremen's outstanding diminutive creative
midfielder Marko Marin who strove endlessly forward for his side
but with little real impact as, for once, Spurs won a match they
were expected to win without any of their usual dramas.
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