Defoe nets hat-trick in Spurs triumph
Jermain Defoe responded to his England snub by scoring a superb hat-trick that put Tottenham's Europa League campaign back on track as they recorded a 3-1 victory over Maribor.
Just nine hours after he was left out of Roy Hodgson's Three Lions squad, the Spurs striker put in a top-class performance against the Slovenian side, scoring all three goals to move Tottenham up to second in Group J with two matches to go.
Defoe scored the opener early in the first half, but Robert Beric equalised just before the break. Defoe put Spurs ahead three minutes after the restart when he converted Tom Carroll's pinpoint pass, and the former West Ham striker killed off the game with 13 minutes left when he got on the end of Gareth Bale's sweeping cross to score.
Emmanuel Adebayor looked keen to impress early on and the Togolese frontman peeled away from his marker in Tottenham's first chance, but could only head over Tom Huddlestone's corner.
Bale got on the end of another Huddlestone corner only to see his header cleared off the line by Martin Milec.
The hosts' pressure paid off after 21 minutes when Bale whipped the ball in from deep and Defoe casually sidefooted past Jasmin Handanovic in the Maribor goal.
Adebayor had the ball in the net 10 minutes later thanks to a superb chip, but the assistant referee correctly ruled the striker had just drifted offside.
The Slovenians then found themselves level. Kyle Naughton's ill-advised backpass left Hugo Lloris with little time on the ball. As Beric closed in on the Frenchman he tried to beat his opponent. The moved failed as Beric took the ball off Lloris' foot and tapped in to an empty net, leaving Tottenham's goalkeeper hugely embarrassed.
It took only three minutes of the second half for the Londoners to score. Carroll calmly slotted an inch-perfect pass into Defoe's path and he coolly slotted beyond Handanovic. The strike moved Defoe ahead of Teddy Sheringham and up to eighth in the list of Tottenham's all-time top goalscorers.
Fully aware of Tottenham's tendency to throw away points in the final quarter, the home fans became nervous. Their concerns disappeared 13 minutes from time, however, when Spurs tore forward on the counter through Bale, who squared for Defoe and he made no mistake from close range.