Confident Spurs eye further Greek tonic

04 October 2012 04:47

Tottenham will head into their second Europa League group match away to Panathinaikos brimming with confidence after notching up a first Premier League victory over Manchester United in 27 attempts on the weekend.

After a slow start to Andre Villas-Boas' reign at White Hart Lane, three straight league wins including the 3-2 thriller at Old Trafford have taken Spurs into fifth place and seem to have turned the tide for their Portuguese manager.

A first win over Sir Alex Ferguson's team since May 2001 left Villas-Boas declaring: "We don't stop here" as Spurs aim for a first European trophy since 1984 when they beat Anderlecht to claim the then-UEFA Cup.

"We feel confident now and our form has been impressive," said the former Chelsea coach who won the Europa League with Porto in 2011.

"We don't stop here though. We have to improve our home form as well and we have to focus on that to make sure we continue this sequence.

"We now go to Panathinaikos and we are missing one match to complete the series (of away matches at Carlisle, Manchester United and Panathinaikos). It will be important to get the win there to put us back on track in the group stage of the Europa League."

Spurs were held to a 0-0 draw by Italian side Lazio in their opening Group J match, and the Italians now host Slovenian club Maribor.

Lazio chiefs will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the racist chanting directed at three of Tottenham's black players, Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend, and which is being investigated by European football's governing body UEFA.

Spurs' Premier League rivals Liverpool almost paid the price for fielding a near second-string side for their Europa League opener with Swiss side Young Boys, but held on to win a thrilling match 5-3.

"Of course we could have defended better and there is no question the three goals we gave away were disappointing," said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who has come under pressure with his team having racked up just one win in their six league outings this season.

"But to draw positives, the young players were so courageous and brave to play and show that confidence, and my senior players were very much together and kept the young guys going."

The third Premier League club in action are Newcastle, who host high-flying Ligue 1 side Bordeaux, who come into the match on the back of a 2-0 away win over Lyon.

Like Spurs, the Magpies were held to a 0-0 draw, by Maritimo on the island of Madeira, and will be hoping to close down a Bordeaux attack that notched up four goals in their opener against Club Bruges.

In Group H action, Italian giants Inter Milan travel to Azerbaijan to play Neftci PFK, who proved their worth by eking out a goalless draw away to Partizan Belgrade.

Inter needed an injury-time goal from Japanese defender Yuto Nagatomo to claim a 2-2 draw against Rubin Kazan.

Defending champions Atletico Madrid host Czech club Viktoria Plzen, having comfortably beaten Israeli club Hapoel Tel-Aviv 3-0 in their opener.

Atletico, 3-0 victors over La Liga rivals Athletic Bilbao in last season's final, demolished Chelsea 4-1 in the UEFA Super Cup and will be looking to extend their European winning streak to 15 matches in the Group B clash.

Source: AFP