Jermain Defoe equals record as Spurs beat Sheriff
England striker secures Europa League win after Jan Vertonghen gave visitors the lead
Tottenham Hotspur’s Jermain Defoe celebrates his goal against Sheriff Tiraspol. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters
Sheriff Tiraspol 0 Tottenham 2: Jermain Defoe equalled Martin Chivers’s club record of 22 European goals for Tottenham as Andre Villas-Boas’s side secured three points against Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol.
The 31-year-old rifled home his sixth goal of this year’s Europa League to help Spurs secure a 2-0 victory that left them on the cusp of the knockout stages.
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 mere strolls 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 after Erik Lamela’s short corner to Christian Eriksen was swung in by the Dane.
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.
Spurs could have qualified for the last 32 with three group games still to play but Anzhi Makhachkala beat Tromso 1-0 when a draw would have suited the Group K leaders .
Substitute Victor Machin equalised two minutes from time as Sevilla salvaged a 1-1 draw against Slovan Liberec in the Czech Republic to stay top of Group H with seven points. The hosts led through Michael Rabusic’s first-half goal but had goalkeeper Premysl Kovar dismissed on 78 minutes and Machin rounded his replacement Lukas Hrosso to level late on.
Lazio relinquished top spot in Group J to Trabzonspor after the Italian side could only draw 0-0 away at Apollon Limassol. Trabzonspor, who eased to a 2-0 win at home over Legia Warsaw, have seven points to Lazio’s five.
A second-half goal from Clement Grenier handed Olympique Lyon their first Group I win after two draws, the French side edging Rijeka 1-0 to move on to five points, along with Real Betis who beat Vitoria Guimares by the same scoreline.
An extraordinary match in Salonika saw hosts PAOK concede twice in the first 21 minutes, miss two penalties with Miroslav Stoch wasting both and still run out 3-2 winners to take control of Group L.
Haifa were 2-0 up through Dino Ndlovu and Eyal Golasa before Miguel Vitor pulled one back.
Stoch had his first spot-kick saved by Bojan Saranov before atoning by setting up Sotiris Ninis to level. Slovakian international Stoch then had another penalty saved by Saranov just before halftime but his blushes were spared when Dimitros Salpingidis volleyed in the winner at the near post on 66 minutes.