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Spurs stroll into group stage, Auxerre oust Zenit

Peter Crouch scored a hat-trick against Switzerland's Young Boys on Wednesday, sending Tottenham sailing through to the Champions League group stage. Elsewhere, Ajax edged past Dynamo Kiev and Auxerre put an end to Zenit St Petersburg's campaign.


REUTERS - Peter Crouch struck a hat-trick to help Tottenham Hotspur complete a great comeback against Young Boys and reach the Champions League for the first time while Luis Suarez led Ajax Amsterdam back to the elite in a 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev.

Tottenham's 4-0 win at White Hart Lane on Wednesday took them through 6-3 on aggregate -- a prospect that had looked highly unlikely when they trailed 3-0 after less than half an hour of last week's first match, which they eventually lost 3-2.

They were given a helping hand in a play-off second leg played in pouring rain when Jermain Defoe clearly used his arm to control the ball before firing a second goal that effectively put the game out of the Swiss team's reach.

Uruguay World Cup striker Suarez got the first goal as four-times European champions Ajax overcame Dynamo 3-2 on aggregate to reach the group stage for the first time since 2005-06 -- the last occasion their Ukrainian opponents failed to qualify.

Slovakian champions Zilina reached the group stage for the first time, beating Sparta Prague 1-0 thanks to a spectacular bicycle kick from Gambian Momodou Ceesay to complete a 3-0 aggregate win.

FC Copenhagen went through on away goals, beating Rosenborg Trondheim 1-0 for a 2-2 aggregate draw, and Auxerre beat nine-man Zenit St Petersburg 2-0 to qualify for the first time since 2002-03 with a 2-1 aggregate win.

Tottenham, who last appeared in Europe's top club competition in 1962, were ahead in the tie for the first time by the fifth minute as Crouch was left unmarked to head home.

The Defoe incident then killed off Young Boys as the England striker clearly used his upper arm before turning to score with a low shot off the post.

The officials' failure to spot the offence will raise questions over the effectiveness of the two extra linesmen behind the goals who are being used in the Champions League this season.

Crouch headed another from a corner just past the hour mark and completed his hat-trick with a 78th minute penalty.

"I always felt it was possible to get Spurs into the Champions League," said Spurs manager Harry Redknapp. "The club had underachieved for a long time.

"It was important we didn't waste the opportunity. We nearly did in Switzerland but we finished the job tonight."

Young Boys coach Vladimir Petkovic said: "It was difficult after the first goal and the second for me was the decisive moment."

In Amsterdam, Uruguay forward Suarez put the Dutch team ahead in the 43rd minute, latching on to Jan Vertonghen's deflected free-kick and rounding Maxym Koval to score from a narrow angle.

Morocco's Mounir El Hamdaoui scored the second for Martin Jol's team in the 75th minute but there was a tense finish after former AC Milan and Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko pulled one back with a penalty.

Zenit St Petersburg could not match a spirited challenge from Auxerre and had two players sent off in the second half.

The team from Burgundy, who had lost the first leg 1-0, scored early in each half, both from corners. The first was a superb header by defender Cedric Hengbart and the second an acrobatic volley by Poland striker Ireneusz Jelen.

Zenit, by far the wealthier club, had goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev sent off for handling the ball outside the area and Tomas Hubocan for a second yellow card.

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