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Villas-Boas pleased with hard-fought win
Dec. 06, 2012 11:08 PM EST
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas was proud of his players after they qualified from the Europa League group stages on Thursday.
Spurs needed to avoid defeat against Panathinaikos at White Hart Lane to progress to the last 32 and Emmanuel Adebayor's first-half strike set them on their way.
But Zeca's equaliser nine minutes into the second half threatened to ruin Tottenham's European dreams.
And Panathinaikos had a golden chance to take the lead when Toche misfired from close range.
Villas-Boas' side made the most of the let-off, with an own goal from goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis and a late effort from Jermain Defoe sealing the win and their spot in the next stage of the competition.
"It was important for us," Villas-Boas said after the win.
"Panathinaikos came from behind to level the game and bring a little bit more emotion into the game. Anything could have happened.
"They could have taken a big, big chance with the scores at 1-1. I think it would have been unfair though because we had a good solid performance during the 90 minutes but we managed to hold on and score which is important for us.
"(To qualify) is something we feel very proud of – firstly to be present in the last 32 and then to show that you can really embrace it in a different and serious way and be committed to a trophy that is full of history in England and European football."
Villas-Boas admitted he would love a match-up with former club and reigning UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea in the latter stages of the competition, although the two sides are unable to be paired together in the round of 32.
"Sometimes it's destiny," he said.
"Hopefully if we go through we can meet each other, they have a team that can win the trophy, they will be in the late stages. If we cross it will be two magnificent games for sure."