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Spurs boss Villas-Boas untroubled after Europa League draw
12:24pm Friday 26th October 2012 in Sport
Andre Villas-Boas believes Tottenham's Europa League campaign remains on track despite the disappointing draw with Maribor in Slovenia.
The Vijolicasti came into the match with a record of just two wins from their previous 15 European games on home soil, but broke the deadlock 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 hide what was a disappointing display by Spurs. Asked if he was happier with the result than the performance, Spurs boss Villas-Boas said: "Certainly on the running of the first half."
He added: "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. Struggling new boys Southampton are the opponents and the Portuguese is looking to iron out some of the negative aspects his side displayed in their last two matches.
"The first half was poor in terms of possession," Villas-Boas said. "It is what we spoke about at the end of the Chelsea game. I think we committed the same mistakes. We kept on giving the ball away instead of being a little bit more calm and keeping the ball.
"The opponent was closing down the spaces well and we can't rush everything. We need to be a bit more patient in possession to find the right space to break through and I think we did it much better in the second half than the first half."
A rare highlight for Spurs was the performance of substitute Iago Falque, whose introduction at half-time had the desired effect. Just 13 minutes after coming on, the Spaniard made a telling impact by providing the cross that allowed Sigurdsson to score during a penalty-box melee.
"He had an extremely good game," Villas-Boas said of Falque. "He had his first game against Carlisle. This is his second game against stronger opposition this season. He did extremely well. His performance made the link-up player better for us. He is a certainly someone we can count on."