Maribor 1-1 Tottenham: Sigurdsson on target as Spurs stutter to Europa League draw

Andre Villas-Boas' side stumbled to its third draw in three games in Group J as the Icelandic midfielder cancelled out Robert Beric's opener at the Stadion Ljudski vrt.
Tottenham slumped to its third draw of the Europa League group stages as Gylfi Sigurdsson's second-half goal rescued a point in a 1-1 draw with Solvenian champion Maribor.

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas was without Emmanuel Adebayor and Gareth Bale for the trip to Slovenia although he was still able to name a strong side with the likes of Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Jermain Defoe and captain for the night Aaron Lennon all in from the off.

The visiting side came close early on as Sigurdsson picked up on Martin Milec's loose headed clearance but could only lash a left-footed shot harmlessly wide.

Maribor had the ball in the net in the sixth minute as Robert Beric finished smartly passed Lloris although the flag had long been raised for offside before the 21-year-old forward had rounded the France skipper.

The first half was producing little by way of goalmouth action with Sigurdsson directing a tame header into Jasmin Handanovic's grasp before Sandro lashed an effort from distance just wide of the Maribor goalkeeper's right-hand post.

Jermain Defoe then came close to netting his eighth goal of the season in the 36th minute but he could only hook his effort wide of the far post after pouncing on Sandro's headed knock down.

Maribor started to show signs of improvement towards the end of the first period and, after Ales Mejac had fired just wide, the home side snatched the lead in the 42nd minute.

Dejan Mezga caused havoc in the Spurs defense as he ghosted past a limp challenge from Tom Huddlestone before drawing Lloris out of his goal and squaring for Beric to tap home into an empty net.

Villas-Boas opted to make a change at halftime as Iago Falque replaced the largely ineffective Andros Townsend although it was the Slovenian side that forced the first opening of the second half as Tavares' low shot was well held by Lloris.

Spurs did manage to force an equalizer just before the hour mark as Falque's ball across the middle of the box was parried by Handanovic before Defoe hammered an effort at goal.

The England international's stinging shot was well blocked on the line but Sigurdsson was in the right place at the right time to pick up the pieces and tap home to make it 1-1.

Maribor could, and perhaps should, have regained the lead when the ball found Agim Ibraimi free in the box but, as he cut inside on his left foot, he failed to test Lloris and diverted his shot into the side netting.

Ales Mertelj then struck a half volley straight down Lloris' throat, while at the other end Defoe's deflected shot was comfortably held by Handanovic as the visiting side started to get more of a grip on the game.

The yellow card came out after 73 minutes when Russian referee Dmitri Mosyakin deemed that Kyle Naughton had dived after cutting in from the left flank although Milec had certainly taken a chance by dangling a leg out.

Both sides had chances to win the game in the latter stages of the second half, with Vertonghen coming closest with a driving shot from distance that flew just wide, although it finished all square to leave the Premier League outfit in third in Group J on three points.

Follow GOAL.COM USA on