• Europa League

Villas-Boas lauds Defoe performance

ESPN staff
October 3, 2013 « FIFA: 4.5m ticket requests for Brazil 2014 | Chartbeat test »
Jermain Defoe opened the scoring for Spurs © Getty Images
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Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas hailed Jermain Defoe after he moved within a goal of Martin Chivers' club record European haul in the win at Anzhi Makhachkala - a performance seemingly not good enough to stop him returning to the bench this weekend.

Defoe's first-half strike put Spurs on course for a 2-0 win in the Europa League and moved him one goal behind Chivers' long-standing record of 22. Fans' favourite Defoe is fifth in the club's all-time scoring list and his goal in Russia was his seventh in four starts this season.

Such scoring form, though, has so far not been enough to persuade Villas-Boas to start him in the Premier League.

Big-money summer signing Roberto Soldado has been preferred as a lone striker and appears set to replace Defoe in the starting line-up in Sunday's return to league action against West Ham.

"We have to judge recovery and the fact that JD [Defoe] was involved today and Soldado wasn't,'' Villas-Boas said. "Everything will come into consideration. We have been extremely happy with the performances of both. It is a question of deciding what is best for the team.

"It was another great goal, a great finish. It's really good to see him out there again doing extremely well whenever he's given the opportunity. He is a great professional, has a great attitude and now he's only one off Martin Chivers so it's a real great achievement for him.

"I think he has the ambition this season to go even further up the ladder in this record tally behind Martin Chivers and as an all-time goalscorer so I think that plays highly in his motivation, definitely.

"It was a very good first half, where we were in control. It is always tricky because Anzhi looked to be very threatening on the counter-attack, attacking our spaces whenever we lost the ball. But I think through what we did in the first half we deserved the result.

"We lost a little bit of control in the second half, kept giving the ball away and they had the upper hand, but even so we were defensively sound.''

The only negative on the night was a knock sustained by Younes Kaboul, forcing him off 20 minutes from time at the Saturn Stadium. Kaboul has been plagued with injuries for the best part of 18 months and suffered another setback in Russia.

"It's a bit of a problem because of his injury in the knee it has taken him time for his body to adapt to new positions on his run,'' Villas-Boas said. "Because of that he's putting extra strain on his muscles and keeps getting small contractions that limit him finishing the games.

"At the moment it doesn't look very serious but it will force him to stop for a week or so. When we get him back we will give him a one-week or two-week preparation to be physically better.''

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