Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Spurs' resilience pleases AVB

Andre Villas-Boas praised his team for holding on for victory at St Mary's

Manager Andre Villas-Boas was pleased by the desire Tottenham showed to hold on to what proved a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Southampton.

Spurs dominated first-half proceedings at St Mary's and deservedly went ahead after 15 minutes courtesy of a Gareth Bale header. Clint Dempsey doubled the north Londoners' advantage six minutes before the half-time break, before Jay Rodriguez reduced the deficit for a resurgent Saints in the second half.

Villas-Boas said: "They came out very, very strongly in the second half. As soon as they scored, the game changes and makes it more difficult. It was very, very similar to the game we played at Old Trafford when we had an extremely good first half in terms of keeping the ball and playing. But in the second half we showed that desire to defend and hold onto the result."

It was a quick turnaround for Tottenham, who were involved in a tough 1-1 Europa League draw at NK Maribor on Thursday. "We came back late from our trip against Maribor," Villas-Boas said.

"We arrived at 2am in the morning, had two days to recover to play a game like this. It required big physical capability and the players really put in the effort. It shows a good example of the possibility that you have to play in the Europa League, be available for the Premier League and still be able to win games."

Bale was one of several players who did not travel to Slovenia, although it was the birth of his first child rather than injury that saw him remain at home. The Wales international returned to the fold against the side he began his career with and impressed in the first half at his old stomping ground.

"I am extremely happy for him," Villas-Boas said. "He is a massive player for the team. He is a player that can make a different with small opportunities. He certainly did that today and scored. It was good for him to be back on the scoresheet. He is certainly someone we rate very, very highly and can go all the way to becoming one of the best."

The result moves Tottenham up to fourth but leaves Saints with just four points to show from their opening nine matches.

"The second half was very good," Southampton manager Nigel Adkins said. "We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game and what we did in the second half we actually wanted to do in the first. Let's give Spurs a little bit of credit because they slowed the game down very well from that point of view.

"They passed the ball and I think we had good possession of the football up until the final third, but just could not find a breakthrough. That is something we spoke about at half-time but in the second half it was a good performance from the players."

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