Europa League - Defoe fires Spurs to victory with hat-trick

Europa League Group J, White Hart Lane – Tottenham 3 (Defoe 22, 49, 77) Maribor 1 (Beric 40)

Europa League - Defoe fires Spurs to victory with hat-trick

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Jermain Defoe celebrates his hat trick with Tottenham team-mate Kyle Walker (Reuters)

Emmanuel Adebayor began his first match of the season but it was Jermain Defoe who caught the eye - and gave England manager Roy Hodgson food for thought - with a clinical hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Slovenian side Maribor in Europa League Group J.

With group leaders Lazio completing a 3-0 win over bottom-placed Panathinaikos in Rome, Spurs - who are two points behind Lazio in second spot - need only four more points from their final two matches to qualify for the last 32 of the tournament.

They visit Lazio on November 22 before hosting Panathinaikos in their final game of the group on December 6. Maribor are two points behind Spurs in third place, but need to avoid defeat in Greece to remain alive in the tournament.

Having drawn their opening three games of the competition, Spurs finally found some real incision in front of goal as they ran out comfortable winners courtesy of Defoe's goals in 22, 49 and 77 minutes.

Defoe's name was absent from Hodgson's latest England squad list for a friendly in Sweden next week, the national coach believing the striker was in need of a rest due to his workload, but on this evidence he has never been fresher.

The 30-year-old's latest salvo moves him on to 126 goals for the London club, passing Teddy Sheringham's 124 to move into eighth spot in the club's all-time scoring chart.

Operating with a 4-4-2 formation, Andre Villas-Boas's team were vastly improved from their 1-0 home defeat to Wigan in the Premier League at the weekend.

Maribor benefited from a slipshod moment in the home defence to equalise on 40 minutes when Kyle Naughton somehow decided to pass the ball back under no pressure to French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who was tackled as the ball came off Robert Beric before landing in the net.

But they fell out of matters in the second period as Gareth Bale and Defoe turned on the style.

Defoe's opening goal was one of real beauty as he glanced the ball into the net from a Bale cross.

He handed his side a 2-1 lead when he raced onto a crisp pass from Thomas Carroll to send a shot spinning into the corner of the net before completing his treble with perhaps the best team goal of the evening.

Adebayor rolled the ball back to Tom Huddlestone, who sent Bale racing clear. The Welshman swept the pass across the face of goal for Defoe to finish with some ease and bury Maribor's hopes of rescuing even a point.

Maribor can have few complaints having never got to grips with Bale or Aaron Lennon.

Goran Cvijanovič headed over the bar from 10 yards after Lloris had nudged out Marcos Tavares's cross ball on 35 minutes while Naughton was forced to make a frantic dash back to tackle Tavares as he prepared to pull the trigger with 20 minutes left.

But Spurs also had their moments with Adebayor and Lennon both having chances in either half to extend the home side's win to a margin that would not have flattered them.

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