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Villas-Boas insists group is still wide open

MANAGER Andre Villas-Boas remains confident Tottenham will qualify from their Europa League group despite watching his team throw away two points at Panathinaikos last night.

Spurs were in complete control of their Group J game against the Greek side and took the lead after 35 minutes when Michael Dawson glanced Tom Huddlestone's cross past Orestis Karnezis.

Jermain Defoe, Gareth Bale, Clint Dempsey and Huddlestone then all missed chances to put the game to bed, and Panathinaikos took full advantage when Toche left Dawson for dead and turned in a Giorgos Seitaridis pass 13 minutes from time.

The draw left Spurs third in the group, two points off leaders Lazio ahead of a double-header against Maribor, who hammered Panathinaikos in their opening fixture.

Villas-Boas' team will have to be more clinical against the Slovenians. "In the end it leaves us with two points," he said. "Maribor have three and Lazio have four so everything is open as we go into the double-headers."

"It's only after the fourth game that you tend to know who will go through or whether there is any competition for that second place.

"In a group like this, normally 10 or 11 points (are needed) to qualify."

Villas-Boas won the competition with Porto in 2011 and reiterated his desire to lift the trophy. "The ambition we set for this competition is to go to the final, to win the trophy," the 34-year-old said. "It is a trophy this club have won in the past so we embrace this tradition. We will try to qualify from this group and take it from there."

Dawson, making his second start of the season, did little to boost his chances of earning a permanent recall early in the first half when he was out-paced by Toche and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, while his distribution from the back was also poor throughout.