Tottenham are up to third in the Premier League, ahead of Chelsea, and André Villas-Boas will not rule out overhauling Manchester City for the runners-up spot – which would be Spurs' highest finish for 50 years. However, he came away from the Liberty Stadium with another priority on his mind.

An avid European, Villas-Boas admits he has been dreaming of winning the Europa League, in which his team are at home to Basel in the first leg of their quarter-final on Thursday. After a hard-fought win in Wales, gilded by goals of the highest class from Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale, the Spurs manager accepted that all teams are judged by where they finish in the league but confessed to a different preference.

"We dream of winning a trophy so our focus on the Europa League won't change," said Villas-Boas, who won the competition with Porto in 2011. "To do it we need to keep the team fresh and we will rotate. We have the top-quality players that enable us to do that but now, in the quarter finals, we dream of winning the trophy and we set out with that intention."

Five matches in the next three weeks promise to define a season in which the former Porto and Chelsea manager has had the tough task of replacing Harry Redknapp, whose contract was not renewed last summer. Redknapp's attractive team had finished fourth so, implicitly, his Portuguese successor is expected to do better. It is a tall order but it is an assignment that he is well placed to perform. The five games that hold the key are Basel at home and away, Everton at White Hart Lane on Sunday, Chelsea away the following weekend and finally Manchester City at home on 21 April.

"The fixture list is very tight and avoiding injuries could make all the difference‚" Villas-Boas said. "But if you want to become a top team it's something you have to get used to. It's a situation the players cherish because the motivation of the Europa trophy is fantastic."

When he was dragged back to discussing Premier League matters, he thought it would be "difficult" to finish second, saying: "It will depend on the immediate fixtures against the teams who have the same objectives."

In terms of qualifying for the Champions League he is taking nothing for granted but he was relieved that Spurs had regained momentum after successive defeats. "You are always more comfortable when you are ahead of the pack," he said. "The teams below us are very close but it's not for the first time this season.

"The balance shifts every weekend and the fact that we are third for the remainder of the week doesn't make us over confident. We just have to continue to do our job."

There is an obvious danger that if the manager puts all his Easter eggs in one Europa League basket his players will follow suit and lose their intensity in the Premier League, but there was no sign of that on Saturday. Spurs were dominant from the outset against opponents who began as if their season had finished with that Capital One triumph five weeks ago.

Soporific Swansea conceded twice in the first 21 minutes before waking up after half an hour and fighting back strongly to have the better of the second half.

Tottenham's goals were the manna from heaven product of individual brilliance by the two best players on the pitch. The first saw Vertonghen advance from his defensive station into midfield, from where a lovely lofted pass from Bale fell inch perfect in the penalty area. The Belgian still had a fair bit to do but controlled the ball instantly with his left foot before scoring silkily with his right. It was a goal of which the ultimate libero, Ruud Gullit, would have been proud.

Spurs' second was just as good, maybe even better. The roles were reversed this time, a prompting pass from Vertonghen supplied Bale inside the D. The Welshman took a touch and in one blurring movement curved the ball high past the nonplussed Michel Vorm with that wand of a left foot. It was Bale's 22nd goal in 37 games and if there is a more deserving candidate for footballer of the year his name does not spring readily to mind.

Swansea belatedly banished premature thoughts of the beach and should have pulled a goal back before half-time, with Nathan Dyer contriving possibly the miss of the season by heading against the crossbar from three yards.

Michu's 20th goal of the season was headed home from a corner in the bizarre absence of attendant defenders. It condemned Spurs to an anxious last 20 minutes and it took a last-ditch block by the man of the moment, Bale, to deny Dyer an equaliser at the death.