Jermain Defoe kept Tottenham’s Europa League dreams alive by scoring all three goals to clinch a vital 3-1 win over Maribor at White Hart Lane.
An emotional appearance from Fabrice Muamba took centre stage at the break, in his first return to White Hart Lane since his collapse back in March, but Defoe ensured the headlines would be about the football after some sublime trademark finishing from the striker.
Gareth Bale had an outstanding game, running the Maribor defense ragged and providing Defoe with two of his three goals, the first of which coming inside the 25 minute mark with a neat side-footed volley.
Maribor shortly equalised though, courtesy of a defensive howler from Spurs.
Kyle Naughton’s back-pass to Hugo Lloris lacked sufficient pace, and the stopper was in further trouble after he bizarrely attempted to take it round the oncoming Robert Beric, who tackled the Frenchman and poked in to level.
Spurs came out of the half-time traps well and went ahead within five minutes of the re-start, Defoe bagging his second following a cunning pass from young Tom Carroll, but they soon stepped off the gas and came under pressure from Maribor who forces saves from Lloris.
But Defoe put the result out of doubt with his match-ball winning goal, another excellent finish from a trademark by-line run and cross from Bale.
"We were brilliant from the beginning,” he said.
"The possession and attack was good to see. We had the mobility and desire to come back from the 1-1.
"It was a game we controlled from the beginning. It was really pleasing to see us play like this.
"It's difficult," Villas Boas added when asked whether the formation switch improved Spurs’ performance.
"We are still a team that creates a lot of attacking opportunities with one striker or two."
Meanwhile, Defoe’s hat-trick meant he eclipsed Teddy Sheringham in Tottenham’s all-time goal scorers list, a feat that is particularly pleasing for the self-confessed “Spurs through-and-though” striker.
“That's special on a personal note as Teddy was a player I watched as a kid," he told ITV.
"He was a great player for club and country.
"It was amazing (to score a hat-trick). As a forward you get judged on scoring goals. It's the best thing in the world but it was important we won the game tonight.
"We pressed high from the start. The movement was good and we kept the ball better. Everyone is delighted.”