Tottenham Hotspur vs. NK Maribor: Instant reaction

Richard Heathcote

Tottenham Hotspur turned back the clock, went 4-4-2 and scored some goals against Maribor in the Europa League.

Hey, we won! A game in Europa League! Holy crap! After three straight draws, Tottenham Hotspur have come away with a win in Europe over NK Maribor, and are now in position to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. Andre Villas-Boas surprisingly went with a 4-4-2 formation, and the combination of Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe worked together brilliantly, as Defoe netted a hat trick in a 3-1 win.

Spurs got off to a brilliant start, with Gareth Bale setting up Defoe's first. He curled a top-notch cross perfectly into the path of Defoe, who touched the ball into the net first time, at the far post. The half did not end well for Spurs, thanks to Kyle Naughton and Hugo Lloris. They shared the fault on a terrible goal, conceded thanks to a bad back pass by Naughton and a clearance attempt by Lloris that wasn't much better. He kicked the ball off of Robert Beric, who got credit for the goal.

The second half was a much more consistent one for Spurs. Defoe's second was set up by Tom Carroll with an excellent through ball, while Adebayor and Bale both had a part in setting up Defoe's final goal of the game to seal the win for Spurs.

Some thoughts:

- Tom Carroll is a really good player. It's going to take him a while to get to a point where he's a legitimate option for games against big teams, but he's going to be a very solid squad player at the very least. His distribution from midfield is awesome.

- I think Lloris and Naughton were equally at fault for the conceded goal. Lloris shouldn't have played the ball to Naughton in the first place, and Naughton should have just dinked the ball off the Maribor attacker who was pressuring him for a throw.

- Jermain Defoe is at his best with a strike partner and two regular-footed wingers in a 4-4-2. This is not new, but this game was a good reminder that we're playing him "out of position" most of the time.

- There's a time and place for everything. This was the time and place for 4-4-2. There will be more times and places. I don't think the match against City is one of them.

- I am seriously considering whether or not Michael Dawson belongs ahead of William Gallas in our central defense hierarchy. I really am not sure.

- It's a bit annoying that Iago Falque didn't get more than a quick cameo in this game, but there's no arguing with the result in this one.

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