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25-11-2006, 12:35 PM #1
Dimitar Berbatov returned to haunt his former club as Tottenham booked their place in the next round of the Uefa Cup with a 1-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.
Berbatov netted in the first half as Spurs secured their third consecutive victory in Europe following wins over Besiktas and Club Brugge.
The Bulgarian has been in a rich vein of form in the Uefa Cup this season and from the outset it was clear that he was in no mood for sentiment against the team he left behind in July.
He linked up well with strike partner Robbie Keane early on, but the first time he got behind the Leverksusen defence his cross to the Irishman was comfortably intercepted by goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt.
He also stung Butt's palms with a fierce drive from distance on the half-hour mark, before breaking the deadlock after 36 minutes.
Aaron Lennon, passed fit and restored the starting line-up, was released by Keane after a neat exchange of passes in midfield and set up Berbatov for a simple tap-in with a low cross.
Bayer rarely threatened in the first half and when they did get into promising positions the impressive Pascal Chimbonda was present to clear the danger.
However, the Tottenham back line had a much more difficult time after half time as the home side committed more men forward in pursuit of an equaliser.
Paul Robinson was required to make his first meaningful save of the match after 52 minutes when he parried away a shot from Bayer substitute Paul Freier.
Robinson then had to be alert from Andrei Voronin's resultant corner to keep out a header from Sergei Barbarez.
Voronin also kept the England keeper busy with a 20-yard effort from wide on the left, but it was anything but one-way traffic as Tottenham looked to catch Bayer on the break.
Berbatov missed a golden opportunity to double Spurs' advantage as he failed to connect with Keane's short cross from the left with the goal gaping in front of him.
Keane then found himself in a similar position after being picked out by Lennon, but this time went for goal and was denied by Butt.
Bayer increased the tempo in the closing stages and Bernd Schneider crashed the woodwork with a long-range strike, but they could not draw level as Spurs held on.
Martin Jol's side can now focus on the knockout stages and perhaps mounting a challenge for the trophy, while Bayer must look to win their last two group games if they are to progress.