Jermain Defoe scored his 23rd European goal for Spurs to break Martin Chivers’ record in a 2-1 win against Sheriff Tiraspol at White Hart Lane that saw them progress to the next round of the Europa League.
A drab match was enlivened by an encouraging performance from Spurs’ record-signing Erik Lamela, who opened the scoring on the hour with a simple finish before a superb run earned a penalty, which Defoe scored with aplomb.
Sheriff midfielder Ismail Isa grabbed an acrobatic consolation from close range to prevent Spurs recording a fourth consecutive clean sheet, but the North Londoners were thereafter untroubled and comfortably held on for the win.
Spurs, who rested Hugo Lloris and welcomed back Etienne Capoue from injury, dominated the early exchanges and forced the first save of the game when Mousa Dembele’s powerful shot was pushed clear by Sheriff goalkeeper Vjekoslav Tomic.
The visitors, who were playing without any away support, suddenly burst into life after a timid start when Ricardinho led a swift counter-attack before finding Ismail Isa, whose deflected shot hit the post with Brad Friedel stranded.
Moments later, a wayward pass from Christian Eriksen presented Ricardinho with a good opportunity 20 yards out, but the Brazilian could only hook his shot wide of goal.
Spurs, who had barely threatened Sheriff’s well-organised defence, then went close two minutes before the break when the lively Lamela’s cutback was deflected onto the base of Tomic’s near post.
After a dour opening to the second half, Spurs were unlucky not to take the lead when Eriksen’s well-struck drive was superbly tipped over the bar by a flying Tomic.
It was a moment that clicked Spurs into gear, and they took the lead soon afterwards when Eriksen’s scooped pass deflected perfectly into the path of Lamela, who scored with ease from twelve yards.
The Argentine forward, who has endured a tough start to his Spurs career after a £25m summer move from current Serie A leaders Roma, then turned provider when a dazzling run drew a rash challenge inside the area, leaving referee Kenn Hansen with no alternative but to point to the spot.
Lamela’s good work was rewarded when Jermain Defoe slammed home the penalty to score his fifth Europa League goal of the season, breaking Chivers’ long-standing record in the process.
At this stage, Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas might have been expecting an uneventful finish to the game, but his team handed Sheriff a lifeline five minutes later when Friedel could only parry Cadu’s long-range shot to the feet of Isa, who tucked the ball home from a tight angle.
Drawn forward in search of an unlikely equaliser, Sheriff were always in danger of conceding a third and it almost came via Lewis Holtby, whose follow-up effort was saved by Tomic after the Croatian could only fumble a drive from substitute Harry Kane.
There was late tension in amongst the home fans when Kyle Naughton conceded a free-kick in stoppage time, but Spurs held firm and took the win which booked their place in the next round.
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