Maribor provided 'difficult game' says Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe

 

Tottenham's Jermain Defoe was disappointed to leave Slovenia without three points but conceded last night's 1-1 draw with Maribor had been a “difficult game”.

Much had been expected from Spurs at the Stadion Ljudski vrt, where the hosts had won just two of their previous 15 European games.

However, Spurs fell behind late in the first half when Dejan Mezga's good work down the left allowed Robert Beric to prod home.

Gylfi Sigurdsson's second-half leveller saved Tottenham's blushes on a night in which they struggled to turn their possession into clear-cut chances.

"It was a difficult game," striker Defoe said. "It is always difficult at this level.

"Being away from home is always going to be difficult, but I thought the second half was better.

"We needed to win but maybe on another day we would have won.

"At half-time we knew we needed to be more offensive and we were in the second half.

"We pressed a bit more than we did in the first half. I think we created one or two more chances, although not many clear-cut chances.

"The atmosphere was fantastic and our travelling support was too. We knew it would be like that before the match and it was a good game."

Defoe's manager Andre Villas-Boas was also frustrated by the result in Slovenia, but remained philosophical about his side's chances of reaching the knockout stage.

Tottenham have drawn all three of their Group J fixtures so far and sit just two points shy of leaders Lazio and one point off last night's opponents Maribor.

Asked if he was happier with the result rather than the performance, 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."

PA

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