Tottenham's ground staff laboured hard to make Hong Kong stadium pitch playable, says Villas-Boas
Tottenham Hotspurs' ground staff deserved a pat on the back - if not a pay bonus - from Barclays Asia Trophy organisers after their sterling efforts to make Hong Kong Stadium's much-criticised pitch playable, Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas joked last night.
The Portuguese was speaking after watching his side demolish South China 6-0 in the play-off for third place on a pitch that resembled a sandy beach after the wear and tear of heavy rain and usage.
England international Jermain Defoe completed a hat-trick in the second half while Clint Dempsey and Andros Townsend also got on the score sheet in front of 40,000 fans.
South China defender Sean Tse Ka-keung, formerly with the Manchester City Academy, scored the first goal into his own net in the early stages, kick-starting a miserable evening for the home champions.
The visitors again played without their much-vaunted forward Gareth Bale, who is still nursing an injury, according to Villas-Boas, who refused to comment on speculation linking the player with Real Madrid.
"Conditions really improved today to allow the tournament to go ahead and it was good for the fans," he said. "But it would have never gone ahead if it wasn't for [the work put in by] our groundsmen; they have been second to none in helping the Premier League solve a massive problem.
"This tournament is an extremely good preparation for us for the Premier League season if you can solve the problem of the quality of the pitch. When I was here with Chelsea [in 2011], it wasn't great."
After losing 3-1 to Sunderland on Wednesday, Villas-Boas paid tribute to his charges, who were watched by Manchester United team manager David Moyes, who arrived from Japan yesterday. "I am extremely happy the way we finished. Today was much better not only physically, but the football we played was very pleasing," he said.
Defender Tse admitted it was difficult to stop Defoe. "He is so fast with quick movements. We did our best, but I think 6-0 is a bit hard to swallow," said Tse.