Sigurdsson saves face in Slovenia but AVB hails Spurs' tenacity


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The Independent Online

Andre Villas-Boas believes Tottenham's Europa League campaign remains on track despite last night's disappointing draw with Maribor in Slovenia.

Maribor came into the match with a record of just two wins in their previous 15 European games on home soil, but went ahead three minutes from the end of the first half courtesy of Robert Beric.

Gylfi Sigurdsson lashed home in the 58th minute to ensure the north Londoners would not leave the Stadion Ljudski vrt empty-handed, but the goal could not disguise what was a disappointing display by Spurs.

Asked if he was happier with the result than the performance, Spurs' manager Villas-Boas said: "Certainly on the running of the first half. The second half was extremely good, the first half was not so good.

"We came back into the game, which is pleasant to see again and it is good for us to bounce back. It is obviously not the full result we wanted, bearing in mind the draw between Lazio and Panathinaikos, but certainly we will take a point.

"The group is completely open. What we face now is two games at home and I think we are in a good position in the group. We are in third position. We have three games to play, there are nine points to play for.

"You see the group – it is very tight. It is not a group where the leader has run off with points."

Villas-Boas, whose side are just two points behind Group J leaders Lazio, will be hoping for an improved performance when they return to Premier League action on Sunday.

Southampton are the opponents and Villas-Boas will be hoping to iron out some of the negative aspects his side displayed tonight and in last weekend 4-2 home defeat to Chelsea.

A rare highlight for Spurs was the performance of the substitute Iago Falque, whose introduction at half-time had the desired effect.

"He had an extremely good game," Villas-Boas said of Falque. While Spurs left Slovenia's second city frustrated, the draw was met by jubilant celebrations by the home team and their fans. Maribor retain a realistic chance of qualifying from a tough-looking group and impressed against their Premier League opponents.

"We are very proud of what we achieved tonight," said the manager Darko Milanic.