• Europa League

Defoe delight at Europa hat-trick

ESPN staff
November 8, 2012
Jermain Defoe took the match ball home after Tottenham's 3-1 win over Maribor © PA Photos

Jermain Defoe expressed his joy at passing Teddy Sheringham in Tottenham's all-time goalscorer's list with a hat-trick in Spurs' 3-1 Europa League win over Maribor on Thursday.

Defoe's 22nd-minute opener was cancelled out in chaotic circumstances when Hugo Lloris was robbed on the goal-line by Robert Beric just before half-time. But the England striker struck twice after the break, converting a second Gareth Bale assist after 77 minutes to complete his treble and go ahead of his boyhood idol Sheringham.

"That's special on a personal note as Teddy was a player I watched as a kid," he told ITV. "He was a great player for club and country.

"It was amazing (to score a hat-trick). As a forward you get judged on scoring goals. It's the best thing in the world but it was important we won the game tonight."

Victory was Spurs' first in the competition and moved them above Maribor and into second place in Group J with two matches to play. It also represents a return to winning ways after Spurs lost 1-0 at home to Wigan at the weekend.

"It was a lot better tonight to be honest," Defoe said. "We pressed high from the start. The movement was good and we kept the ball better. Everyone is delighted."

Defoe partnered Emmanuel Adebayor up front in a 4-4-2 formation for the first time under boss Andre Villas-Boas, who was booed by the home fans after he made a straight swap between the strikers against Wigan.

Bale, however, denied that the change in formation had been the catalyst for their performance.

"I'm not so sure to be honest," he said. "All the boys went out there and we needed to bounce back from weekend result and we did that.

Villas-Boas praised Defoe and his side following their much-needed win.

"He (Defoe) makes the most of the opportunities he gets," he said. "Gareth was amazing for him and when you have so much quality in the link-up you have the possibility to score and he's a good goalscorer. To take over Teddy Sheringham means a lot to him."

Despite his side's dominance the Portuguese was reluctant to commit to playing 4-4-2, with a trip to Premier League champions Manchester City looming next on Sunday.

"It's difficult," he said. "We are still a team that creates a lot of attacking opportunities with one striker or two. It's a different scenario (against Manchester City); hopefully we'll recover the boys."

Reflecting on Spurs' win, which was in doubt following Lloris red-faced moment following a Kyle Naughton's dangerous backpass, he added: "We were brilliant from the beginning.

"The possession and attack was good to see. We had the mobility and desire to come back from the 1-1. It was a game we controlled from the beginning. It was really pleasing to see us play like this."

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