Europa League: Tottenham clinch vital win thanks to Defoe hat-trick

Jermain Defoe scored a brilliant hat-trick as Tottenham grabbed an important victory over NK Maribor to boost their Europa League campaign. The Spurs drew their opening three Group J matches but this time Defoe put them ahead with a fine volley from Gareth Bale's cross. Then some poor defending from Kyle Naughton and Hugo Lloris allowed Robert Beric to level the score just before half-time but Defoe restored his side's advantage before slipping home another Bale cross to seal the three points. The result moves Andre Villas-Boas's side up to second in the table, two points behind leaders Lazio, who beat Panathinaikos 3-0, and two above third-place Maribor. Spurs travel to Lazio on 22 November before hosting Panathinaikos on 6 December, needing four points out of those two games to guarantee a place in the last 32.

Manager Andre Villas-Boas chose to field an attacking 4-4-2 this time, with Adebayor and Defoe upfront, and the choice immediately proved right. The home side created chances right away through Bale, Adebayor and Defoe and the goal finally came when a good cross from Bale was volleyed home by Defoe. The visitors reacted though and they were rewarded just before the break when Naughton put goalkeeper Lloris under pressure and the French keeper was dispossessed inside his own box by Beric, who got credit for the goal.

Fabrice Muamba, back at White Hart Lane for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch in March, was introduced at half-time and the crowd at White Hart Lane welcomed him in style. "I want to thank all of you Spurs fans who were here and who prayed for me," said the former Bolton midfielder. "You were all fantastic and I will never forget."

The Spurs needed just three minutes to regain the lead, 20-year-old Tom Carroll setting up Defoe who fired a left-foot finish into the bottom corner. Beric almost bagged another equaliser when he nodded Agim Ibraimi's free-kick just over the bar, but Tottenham left the visitors no other opportunities. Adebayor volleyed one wide before Defoe completed his hat-trick when he rounded off a fine team move which saw Adebayor, Huddlestone and Bale. This was his eighth goal of the season and the fifth hat-trick for Spurs.

Bet365 have Tottenham at 14/1 to win the Europa League this season while NK Maribor are priced at 300/1.

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