Europa League: Villas-Boas stays upbeat as three limp off in Spurs win

Frank Dalleres
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TOTTENHAM boss Andre Villas-Boas played down a triple injury scare last night after summer signing Christian Eriksen brilliantly opened his account in a Europa League stroll against Tromso.

Recalled striker Jermain Defoe pressed his claim with a typically clinical first-half double that ensured a perfect start to their group stage campaign and Eriksen finished the night with a flourish by curling in from 25 yards.

Spurs finished the match with 10 men, however, as left-back Danny Rose, midfielder Mousa Dembele and central defender Younes Kaboul all suffered injuries ahead of a frantic period for the north Londoners.

Tottenham face Cardiff on Sunday, Aston Villa on Tuesday and host Chelsea the following Saturday, but a relieved Villas-Boas said initial signs suggested only Rose’s ankle knock might keep any of the trio sidelined.

“Dembele felt a lot of pain when he was brought down but he’s steady now and it looks OK,” said Villas-Boas. “Younes was struggling but didn’t rupture anything.

“Danny Rose is one we have to be a bit more careful with. Hopefully it’s not very serious but we have to give him one night’s sleep to see his reaction and tomorrow make the exams on the ankle. He is the one who is more in doubt [for Sunday].”

Villas-Boas also warned that Defoe’s continued ruthlessness was unlikely to prompt him to change to a two-striker system to accommodate him and recent arrival Roberto Soldado.

He added: “At the moment we are playing with one striker up front and a No10. We have scored 15 goals in seven games, conceded one, which is good numbers for us. We haven’t seen a reason to change the system.”

Defoe was handed only his second start of the season while £30m Erik Lamela was making his first, and the pair combined for the opener on 21 minutes when the Argentina midfielder slid in the England striker to lift over goalkeeper Marcus Sahlman.

Kaboul blazed over from a corner before Lewis Holtby took his turn to tee up Defoe in the 29th minute, the German midfielder’s eye-of-the-needle pass preceding another effortless first-time finish, this time low into the far corner.

Rose and Dembele departed on stretchers either side of half-time and the home side eased off, with a sixth win from seven this season assured.

Substitute Eriksen sprinkled stardust on the occasion three minutes from time when the Dane shuffled onto his right foot and whipped a curling, dipping shot from 25 yards that sent Tottenham top of Group K and the prospects of the world’s northernmost top flight club firmly south.