Sheriff Tiraspol 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2 match report: Lethal Jermain Defoe lays down law for Spurs
England striker equals Martin Chivers' long-standing club goalscoring record in Europe to ensure Tottenham already have one foot in the last 32
Thursday 24 October 2013
Of all the goals Jermain Defoe has scored for Tottenham, this was surely some way down the list in purely aesthetic terms. Yet the striker who has been forced to play second fiddle to Roberto Soldado for most of the season once more stated his case for regular selection by manager Andre Villas-Boas as he equalled Martin Chivers' long-standing goalscoring record in Europe and ensured Tottenham already have one foot in the last 32 of the Europa League after just three group stage matches.
Victory in the return match against the Moldovan champions in a fortnight's time will confirm that, although having lost the last Premier League match they played after a Thursday night engagement, Villas-Boas will be anxious there are no more slip-ups when they face Hull City on Sunday. Having scored five times in the Europa League before the meeting with West Ham ahead of the international break, Defoe was brought in for his first Premier League start but the plan backfired spectacularly as they were beaten 3-0 by his former club.
It remains to be seen whether Villas-Boas adopts the same approach this time, although he praised the England striker after his deflected strike 15 minutes from time wrapped up the victory following Jan Vertonghen's early header and took Defoe level with Chivers' mark of 22 goals in European competition.
"It's a great achievement. We'll celebrate even more if he overtakes the record," he said. "The objective was to secure qualification over the course of these two games and this result ensures we still have that possibility. We have nine points now which is a completely different position to where we were last year."
Tottenham had to brave a round trip of more than 2,700 miles to play this match in the communist state of Transnistria but Vertonghen gave them the perfect start when he heaeded in Christian Eriksen's cross in the 12th minute. They survived a scare soon afterwards when Brazilian Henrique broke free on goal and looked all but certain to score after rounding Hugo Lloris, only for Vlad Chiriches to clear off the line.
The hosts continued to apply pressure but always looked vulnerable to Tottenham's ability to launch rapid counter-attacks. Defoe spurned two good chances to match Chivers' record either side of the break, while Aaron Lennon caused several problems on his first start for two months.
The points were eventually secured when substitute Nacer Chadli picked out Defoe and his drive from outside the area took a massive deflection to deceive the goalkeeper.
Anzhi Makhachkala's 1-0 victory over Tromso in Group K's other game means Tottenham will have to wait a little longer before they can concentrate fully on the Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur Lloris; Naughton, Chiriches, Vertonghen, Fryers (Dawson 34 mins); Sandro (Holtby 76), Dembélé; Lennon, Erikson, Lamela (Chadli 61); Defoe
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