Jermain Defoe scored a hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur FC got their UEFA Europa League campaign back on track with their first win of Group J.
Defoe was a vibrant presence throughout against NK Maribor, and though his 22nd-minute opener was cancelled out just before half-time by Robert Berić, the visitors could find no reply to his two efforts after the restart. The Slovenian champions are now two points behind the English side in the section, though will be hopeful of reviving their aspirations at bottom-placed Panathinaikos FC on matchday five, when Spurs travel to leaders S.S. Lazio.
André Villas-Boas made his intentions clear by starting Emmanuel Adebayor alongside Defoe in attack, and the north Londoners quickly set about monopolising possession. Gareth Bale surged past Martin Milec on the quarter-hour but, after his cutback beat goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovič, nobody was on hand to finish. Soon after, Defoe headed Adebayor's pinpoint delivery into Handanovič's arms.
The pressure eventually told when Bale collected Thomas Carroll's sweeping pass and curled in a cross that Defoe adroitly guided in at the near post. Adebayor nodded another Bale delivery at Handanovič before Aleš Mertelj's blast from distance for the away team was deflected over.
Maribor grabbed an unlikely equaliser towards the end of the half, Berić blocking Hugo Lloris's attempted clearance straight into the net after Kyle Naughton's weak back pass had put the France keeper under pressure.
Spurs were not to be denied and retook the initiative four minutes into the second half. Carroll was again involved, playing a first-time pass between two defenders to Defoe, who coolly slotted left-footed beyond Handanovič.
Adebayor almost added a delightful effort yet dragged it wide after Bale's scooped pass took out the defence. Visiting captain Tavares almost made him pay, only to lose his footing when through on Lloris. Defoe calmed nerves with his third after a slick move involving Adebayor, Tom Huddlestone and Bale.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.