Jermain Defoe became Tottenham's most prolific European striker in a 2-1 win over Sheriff Tiraspol at White Hart Lane.
Defoe became Tottenham’s all-time leading goalscorer in European football with a second half penalty to help Spurs into the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.
The England striker scored from the spot on 65 minutes, overtaking Martin Chivers with his 23rd European strike, while Erik Lamela dazzled to win the penalty having broken the deadlock on the hour mark.
The Moldovans – who now can’t qualify for the next stages – scored a consolation through Ismail Isa: the first goal Spurs had conceded in 593 minutes of European action.
With European football taking secondary importance for Spurs, Andre Villas-Boas made nine changes to the starting eleven, introducing Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Etienne Capoue and Defoe from the cold.
As Villas-Boas’ new-look attacking quartet looked to ask questions, FC Sheriff were impeccably organised in defence for the opening half in North London – and even had their own chances.
The best chance of the half came after 24 minutes when the Moldovans launched a rapid counter attack, catching ultra-attacking Spurs off guard with Ricardinho laying off lone striker Isa who saw his shot deflected by Younes Kaboul, before striking Brad Friedel’s left-hand post.
Moments later, Eriksen played a careless square pass outside his own box, falling straight to the feet of Ricardinho who blasted a shot yards past the post.
Apart from those nose-bleed runs into Spurs territory, Sheriff rarely shifted outside of their rigid defensive shape. They made an impressive 13 interceptions, compared to just one for the English side.
Tottenham fans did their best to make things entertaining, singing “Let’s pretend we scored a goal!” and unleashing a cheer from behind the goal.
Former Ajax playmaker Eriksen got Spurs fans off their seats with a dynamic piece of midfield play, weaving around the pitch until a yard of space popped up and he lashed a shot heading for the top corner; only for Tomic to make a superb save.
On the hour mark, Spurs finally got the breakthrough and Argentine star Lamela sweeped the ball past Tomic from a narrow angle.
That’s a goal which brought a new lease of confidence to the attacker who then proceeded to magnificently dribble through the heart of Sheriff’s defence, winning a penalty kick on 65 minutes.
Defoe was starved of goalscoring opportunities until this point – and he made little mistake ramming into the top corner to break Chivers’ European record.
However, two minutes later, an eerie noise descended over White Hart Lane when Isa struck home the rebound from Friedel’s initial save to give FC Sheriff – and their 20 travelling directors (no fans) – some hope.
Tottenham were assured in seeing out the match, securing European football after Christmas – but still need to beat Norwegian cracks Tromso to win Group K outright.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jermain Defoe
- Erik Lamela
- Martin Chivers
- Sheriff Tiraspol
- Christian Eriksen
- Ismail Isa
- UEFA Europa League