Sheriff Tiraspol 0 -2 Tottenham Hotspur: Defoe scores big

Sheriff Tiraspol's Djibril Paye and Skobi Moyal fight for the ball with Tottenham's Erik Lamela. Picture: Reuters
Sheriff Tiraspol's Djibril Paye and Skobi Moyal fight for the ball with Tottenham's Erik Lamela. Picture: Reuters
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Jermain Defoe equalled Martin Chivers’ club record of 22 Euro­pean goals for Tottenham as Andre Villas-Boas’ side secured three points against Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol.

The 31-year-old, now in his second spell with the north Londoners, rifled home his sixth of this year’s Europa League to help Spurs secure a 2-0 victory.

Not only did it leave the Spurs on the cusp of the knockout stages, but the strike saw Defoe equal Chivers’ long-standing Euro­pean scoring record.

The former England striker was part of the Uefa Cup-­winning side of 1972 – a feat the current Spurs side look capable of matching.

Favourites with the bookmakers, Tottenham are one of five teams in this year’s competition to have previously lifted the trophy and have won all five matches this season without conceding a goal.

Their latest victory leaves them on the cusp of Group K qualification, although the win at Sheriff was by no means easy.

Previous matches in Tbilisi and Moscow were relative cakewalks in comparison to the 2,742-mile round trip to the communist state of Transnistria.

Despite having its own currency, police, army and border guards, the region remains unrecognised by any sovereign nations and, to all intents and purposes, is considered part of Moldova, whose league Sheriff have won 11 times since 2000.

They impressed at a packed-out Stadionul Sheriff, although Jan Vertonghen headed the north Londoners ahead after just 12 minutes.

It was a set piece that proved costly to the hosts. Erik Lamela played the ball short to Christian Eriksen, whose cross was nodded into the top left-hand 
corner with impressive control by Vertonghen.

Silence fell upon Stadionul Sheriff after the ball rippled the back of the net, although the raucous home support, complete with loud hooters, soon found their voice again.

Vlad Chiriches was forced to make a stunning block at full stretch to prevent Henrique grabbing an immediate leveller, while Cadu, Ismail Isa and Richardinho also came close for the hosts.

However, having seen Aaron Lennon, making his first start since the opening day, strike the post moments earlier, Defoe fired home with 15 minutes remaining to secure victory and his place in the record books.

Collecting a ball from substitute Nacer Chadli, the England striker rifled home.

Defoe wasted a chance to break the record soon after with what proved to be his last real chance, with Isa prodding wide late on for the hosts.

In the other Group K matchAnzhi Makhachkala claimed their first win as they beat Tromso 1-0. The Russian side were in need of victory after claiming just one point from their opening two games and they secured it thanks to a first-half goal from Nikita Burmistrov.

Sheriff Tiraspol: Tomic, Balima, Metoua, Samardzic, Paye, Moyal (Furdui 70), Stanojevic, Ricardinho, Cadu (Fernando 84), Luvannor, Isa (Paireli 88). Subs Not Used: Stajila, Scripcenco, William, Pascenco.

Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Chiriches, Vertonghen, Fryers (Dawson 34), Dembele, Sandro (Holtby 76), Lamela (Chadli 61), Eriksen,Lennon, Defoe. Subs Not Used: Friedel, Soldado, Adebayor, Sigurdsson.

Referee: Liran Liany (Israel).

Attendance: 14,300