Luka Modric scored a piledriver as Spurs thrashed Bolton 4-1 to revive their chances of Champions League football and leave them within a point of bitter rivals Arsenal for third spot in the league.
The game started with a warm and emotional reception from both set of supporters for Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba, who made his first public appearance since the tragic heart attack he suffered on the pitch against Spurs earlier in the season during an FA Cup tie.
The game was of major significance for the future of both clubs. Spurs are chasing a Champions League place and Bolton are fighting for their Premier League survival. This was a game that neither club could afford to lose.
A fast start saw both teams creating chances, but the breakthrough came in the 27th minute when Spurs midfield maestro Luka Modric struck an absolute screamer into the Bolton net. Although the Trotters scored an equalizer early in the second half, it was Spurs who seized control. Their slick, attacking football saw them claim a comfortable victory thanks to braces from Adebayor and Aaron Lennon.
The result, combined with Newcastle’s win at Chelsea on the same night, has blown the race for third and fourth spot wide open. Spurs, Arsenal and Newcastle, this season’s surprise package, are fighting for the two remaining berths, with Chelsea facing an uphill struggle to qualify for the Champions League if they don’t win this year’s competition.
Arsenal supporter Justin Whelan said: “The league is tight, any one of those clubs [Spurs, Arsenal and Newcastle] can finish third or fourth so it’s all to play for.”
In one of the closest Premier League finishes ever, it’s not a guarantee that the team finishing fourth will be in the Champions League next season. Chelsea are in this season’s Champions League final and they could throw a spanner in the works. If they were to win the trophy, they would automatically qualify for next season’s competition as the holders, taking away fourth spot’s position. Only four English teams are allowed to compete in Europe’s elite competition.
This situation has caused concern among Spurs fans. Season-ticket holder Jason Saunders said: “It’s worrying and unfair that the team that finishes fourth loses out on all the hard work throughout the season, just to accommodate the winners. FIFA [football’s governing body] need to have a look at this rule and change it.”