Tottenham Hotspur moved a step closer to the Europa League knockout stages with a hard-earned victory away to Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova.

Jan Vertonghen's header from Christian Eriksen's cross set Spurs on their way.

Vlad Chiriches produced a superb clearance to deny Henrique Luvannor an equaliser before Aaron Lennon hit a post on his first start for two months.

Jermain Defoe's deflected shot doubled the lead as Spurs made it three wins in three games in Group K.

The England international's 75th-minute strike moved him level with Martin Chivers's club record of 22 European goals.

Having disposed of Norway's Tromso and Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala without conceding a goal, Spurs knew a third group victory would confirm their place in the last 32 - if Anzhi's home clash with Tromso ended level.

Defoe's European goal rush

Jermain Defoe has scored eight times this season - six of which have come in the qualifying rounds and group stage of the Europa League.

It did not, but Anzhi's 1-0 win means Tottenham will reach the knockout stages if they defeat Sheriff at White Hart Lane on 7 November.

Villas-Boas will hope it is a more comfortable experience than the one he endured at the Sheriff Stadium.

The champions of Moldova have not won a group game in Europe for three years and must have feared the worst when Vertonghen beat captain Miral Samardzic in the air to power Eriksen's 12th-minute cross home, the Belgian's first goal since March.

Yet Vertonghen spent the rest of the half at the other end of the pitch as Sheriff put the Spurs defence under intense pressure.

The hosts would have been level in the 15th minute but for a superb piece of defending by Chiriches, the Romania international denying Luvannor an equaliser after the Brazilian rounded Hugo Lloris and rolled the ball towards an empty net.

Cadu, another Brazilian, had a goal ruled out for offside, Ismail Isa flashed the ball across the face of goal and Luvannor fired over the bar as the home side continued to press.

And there were anxious faces on the Spurs bench when Isa went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Sandro.

But Tottenham survived on a night when the result outweighed the performance - and it might have been more comfortable for Villas-Boas had Lennon marked his first start since the opening weekend of the season with a goal, twice going close to doubling Spurs' lead.

Defoe's goal confirmed the victory, though, and the Londoners reach the midway point of the group stage with a 100% record and yet to concede a goal.

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas:

"The game could have easily gone to 1-1 as after we scored they had so many chances to level the score. They looked good on the counter-attack, had some great moments and we have to recognise that.

"A draw would be a fair result, but the second goal is always important in games like this.

"We were fortunate to get the second goal to kill the game, but it could have gone the other way."

Jermain Defoe on equalling Martin Chivers's club record of 22 European goals:

"It was a great moment. I was delighted to see it go in because I didn't really have that many chances.

"It's great to equal the record and I'd love to break it at White Hart Lane, that would be great."

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (6)

Sheriff Tiraspol

  • 77 Tomic
  • 14 Balima
  • 22 Paye
  • 21 Moyal Booked (Furdui - 70' )
  • 26 Samardzic
  • 15 Metoua
  • 11 Cavalcante Mendes
  • 88 Stanojevic
  • 29 Isa Mustafa (Paireli - 88' )
  • 20 de Fiori Mendes (Gomes de Jesus - 84' )
  • 90 Henrique de Sousa

Substitutes

  • 07 Furdui
  • 12 Stajila
  • 16 Paireli
  • 17 Scripcenco
  • 19 Gomes de Jesus
  • 33 da Silva
  • 89 Pascenco

Tottenham Hotspur

  • 25 Lloris
  • 16 Naughton
  • 35 Fryers (Dawson - 34' )
  • 30 Sandro (Holtby - 76' )
  • 12 Chiriches Booked
  • 05 Vertonghen
  • 07 Lennon
  • 19 Dembélé
  • 18 Defoe
  • 23 Eriksen
  • 33 Lamela (Chadli - 61' )

Substitutes

  • 09 Soldado
  • 10 Adebayor
  • 14 Holtby
  • 20 Dawson
  • 21 Chadli
  • 22 Sigurdsson
  • 24 Friedel
Ref: Liran Liany

Match Stats

Shots

12 11

On target

2 4

Corners

6 5

Fouls

11 10

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Sheriff Tiraspol 0, Tottenham Hotspur 2.

90:00 +3:02 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Sheriff Tiraspol 0, Tottenham Hotspur 2.

90:00 +2:52

Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +2:52

Foul by Fernando (Sheriff Tiraspol).

90:00 +1:19

Offside, Sheriff Tiraspol. Miral Samardzic tries a through ball, but Vadim Paireli is caught offside.

90:00 +0:55

Foul by Nacer Chadli (Tottenham Hotspur).

90:00 +0:55

Benjamin Balima (Sheriff Tiraspol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

89:07

Lewis Holtby (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

89:07

Foul by Valentin Furdui (Sheriff Tiraspol).

87:40 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sheriff Tiraspol. Vadim Paireli replaces Ismail Isa.

87:11

Attempt missed. Fernando (Sheriff Tiraspol) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Djibril Paye.

86:59

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

86:24

Delay in match Kyle Naughton (Tottenham Hotspur) because of an injury.

85:54

Foul by Nacer Chadli (Tottenham Hotspur).

85:54

Valentin Furdui (Sheriff Tiraspol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

83:34 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sheriff Tiraspol. Fernando replaces Cadu.

83:09

Offside, Tottenham Hotspur. Lewis Holtby tries a through ball, but Jermain Defoe is caught offside.

80:51

Attempt missed. Ismail Isa (Sheriff Tiraspol) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Luvannor with a through ball.

75:42 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Lewis Holtby replaces Sandro.

74:57

Attempt missed. Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Christian Eriksen.

74:01 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Sheriff Tiraspol 0, Tottenham Hotspur 2. Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Nacer Chadli.

73:02

Attempt missed. Vlad Chiriches (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Kyle Naughton.

70:46

Attempt missed. Marko Stanojevic (Sheriff Tiraspol) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a corner.

70:15

Corner, Sheriff Tiraspol. Conceded by Michael Dawson.

70:13

Attempt blocked. Ricardo Cavalcante (Sheriff Tiraspol) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Luvannor.

69:10 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sheriff Tiraspol. Valentin Furdui replaces Kobi Moyal because of an injury.

66:42

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Benjamin Balima.

66:37

Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur) hits the left post with a right footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Mousa Dembélé.

65:48

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Kobi Moyal.

62:46

Foul by Nacer Chadli (Tottenham Hotspur).

62:46

Benjamin Balima (Sheriff Tiraspol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

60:35

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

60:26 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Nacer Chadli replaces Erik Lamela.

59:52

Delay in match Ismail Isa (Sheriff Tiraspol) because of an injury.

59:15 Booking

Booking Kobi Moyal (Sheriff Tiraspol) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

59:13

Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

59:13

Foul by Kobi Moyal (Sheriff Tiraspol).

59:04

Attempt missed. Cadu (Sheriff Tiraspol) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ismail Isa.

56:27

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

55:52

Delay in match Cadu (Sheriff Tiraspol) because of an injury.

55:13

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Cadu.

55:08

Attempt blocked. Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Christian Eriksen.

54:28

Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

54:28

Foul by Miral Samardzic (Sheriff Tiraspol).

53:04

Attempt missed. Marko Stanojevic (Sheriff Tiraspol) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Cadu.

51:38

Attempt saved. Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Christian Eriksen.

49:13

Corner, Sheriff Tiraspol. Conceded by Vlad Chiriches.

48:24

Offside, Sheriff Tiraspol. Luvannor tries a through ball, but Cadu is caught offside.

45:00

Second Half begins Sheriff Tiraspol 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1.

45:00 +1:09 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Sheriff Tiraspol 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1.

45:00 +0:58 Booking

Booking Vlad Chiriches (Tottenham Hotspur) is shown the yellow card.

45:00 +0:46

Attempt missed. Kobi Moyal (Sheriff Tiraspol) right footed shot from more than 35 yards misses to the left.

44:28

Offside, Sheriff Tiraspol. Ricardo Cavalcante tries a through ball, but Ismail Isa is caught offside.

41:44

Vlad Chiriches (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the right wing.

41:44

Foul by Luvannor (Sheriff Tiraspol).

41:06

Offside, Sheriff Tiraspol. Ricardo Cavalcante tries a through ball, but Luvannor is caught offside.

40:13

Offside, Tottenham Hotspur. Vlad Chiriches tries a through ball, but Aaron Lennon is caught offside.

40:09

Attempt blocked. Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jermain Defoe.

38:48

Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

38:48

Foul by Kobi Moyal (Sheriff Tiraspol).

38:21

Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

38:21

Foul by Kobi Moyal (Sheriff Tiraspol).

37:47

Attempt missed. Luvannor (Sheriff Tiraspol) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

37:38

Foul by Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham Hotspur).

37:38

Ricardo Cavalcante (Sheriff Tiraspol) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

35:50

Attempt missed. Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Kyle Naughton.

35:10

Foul by Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur).

35:10

Ismail Isa (Sheriff Tiraspol) wins a free kick on the left wing.

33:45

Foul by Vlad Chiriches (Tottenham Hotspur).

33:45

Luvannor (Sheriff Tiraspol) wins a free kick on the left wing.

33:10

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

33:09 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Michael Dawson replaces Ezekiel Fryers because of an injury.

32:14

Delay in match Ezekiel Fryers (Tottenham Hotspur) because of an injury.

31:40

Attempt missed. Ismail Isa (Sheriff Tiraspol) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

31:26

Foul by Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur).

31:26

Kobi Moyal (Sheriff Tiraspol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

29:56

Offside, Sheriff Tiraspol. Luvannor tries a through ball, but Cadu is caught offside.

29:03

Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the right wing.

29:03

Foul by Luvannor (Sheriff Tiraspol).

28:34

Attempt blocked. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Aaron Lennon.

27:14

Offside, Sheriff Tiraspol. Vjekoslav Tomic tries a through ball, but Kobi Moyal is caught offside.

26:24

Foul by Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur).

26:24

Djibril Paye (Sheriff Tiraspol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

25:54

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Marcel Metoua.

19:27

Attempt saved. Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Christian Eriksen.

18:48

Attempt missed. Kobi Moyal (Sheriff Tiraspol) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

15:26

Offside, Sheriff Tiraspol. Marko Stanojevic tries a through ball, but Ismail Isa is caught offside.

14:42

Corner, Sheriff Tiraspol. Conceded by Vlad Chiriches.

14:40

Attempt blocked. Luvannor (Sheriff Tiraspol) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cadu with a through ball.

13:49

Offside, Sheriff Tiraspol. Ricardo Cavalcante tries a through ball, but Ismail Isa is caught offside.

12:39

Attempt saved. Cadu (Sheriff Tiraspol) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ismail Isa.

11:44 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Sheriff Tiraspol 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1. Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Christian Eriksen with a cross following a corner.

11:15

Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Djibril Paye.

10:09

Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

10:09

Foul by Kobi Moyal (Sheriff Tiraspol).

9:11

Foul by Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur).

9:11

Benjamin Balima (Sheriff Tiraspol) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

7:24

Corner, Sheriff Tiraspol. Conceded by Vlad Chiriches.

6:37

Foul by Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham Hotspur).

6:37

Ismail Isa (Sheriff Tiraspol) wins a free kick on the left wing.

5:52

Vlad Chiriches (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

5:52

Foul by Ismail Isa (Sheriff Tiraspol).

2:21

Corner, Sheriff Tiraspol. Conceded by Jan Vertonghen.

1:56

Corner, Sheriff Tiraspol. Conceded by Jan Vertonghen.

1:00

Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the right wing.

1:00

Foul by Luvannor (Sheriff Tiraspol).

0:10

Offside, Sheriff Tiraspol. Miral Samardzic tries a through ball, but Ismail Isa is caught offside.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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