However, Villas-Boas insists that the substitution was made for tactical reasons and that it was nothing personal.
"The most important thing for the players to realise is we do things for the benefit of the team," said the Portuguese. "For sure, it is not something that is very pleasing to see.
"We understand individual frustrations but we, as a team, are more important.
"The game wasn't going well for Defoe and that was in our thought process. Maybe he thought the opposite, but we didn't take him off to punish him, we took him off to improve the team."
Defoe has scored five goals in 10 Premier League appearances this season.