MX23RW : Thursday, September 20 20:47:12

Live Commentary: Sheriff Tiraspol 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur - as it happened

Sports Mole brings you live text coverage of the Europa League Group K encounter between Sheriff Tiraspol and Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham Hotspur maintained their 100% record in the Europa League with a 2-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol this evening.

Jan Vertonghen gave the visitors the lead after just 12 minutes when he nodded Christian Eriksen's cross into the bottom corner.

Sheriff went close to equalising on a number of occasions and were only denied a certain goal by some fine defending by Vlad Chiriches in the 15th minute.

However, it was Spurs who got the crucial second goal when Jermain Defoe's 25-yard strike deflected off Marcel Metoua and past the keeper.

You can read how an entertaining 90 minutes in Moldova unfolded with Sports Mole's live coverage below.

5.30pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's Europa League clash between Sheriff Tiraspol and Tottenham Hotspur. On paper, it looks like it should be a straightforward win for the visitors, but will that be the case? Let's take a look...

5.32pmLet's start by looking at our hosts tonight. You may not know much about Sheriff Tiraspol, but hopefully you know more than Tottenham's Lewis Holtby, who thought they were a team from Northern Ireland! They are, in fact, the undoubted kings of Moldovan football having won the league title in 12 of the last 13 seasons, including the most recent campaign.

5.34pmUnsurprisingly given that recent record, they lead the way again in the current season having amassed 29 points from 12 games so far this season. Their one and only league defeat came on the opening day of the season, and the last time they were beaten in any competition was when Dinamo Zagreb knocked them out of the Champions League qualifying rounds.

5.36pmThat good run of form has seen them score plenty of goals, most notably a couple of 5-0 wins and one 7-0 win in the last two months. Their goal tally is the best in the domestic league having found the net 35 times in their 12 matches, while their defence has also impressed his season, conceded a league-low six goals.

5.38pmWith all due respect to Moldovan football, however, the level of opposition tonight is a vast improvement on what Sheriff Tiraspol usually come up against. That being said, they are unbeaten in the competition so far this season having drawn their opening two games, and their second place in the group coupled with a 14-match unbeaten run will fill them with confidence.

5.40pmSpurs will also have a swagger about themselves tonight, however, and they will fully be expecting to come away from Moldova with all three points. Should that happen, they could find themselves qualified for the next round after just three games. If Tromso and Anzhi draw, Spurs would be seven points clear of the other three teams in the group and, with only one team possibly getting nine points in the remaining three games, that would see the North London side through.

5.42pmThey have certainly made things look easy in the Europa League so far this season. As well as topping the group with a perfect record, they are yet to concede a goal, having beaten Tromso 3-0 and Anzhi 2-0. In fact, even including the qualifying matches, Spurs are yet to concede a goal in the Europa League this season.

5.44pmThe defence has been a bedrock of success for Spurs this season - both in Europe and domestically. They have the joint second best defensive record in the Premier League and have kept clean sheets in all of their last four away games. They also managed to win all of those games, so another victory tonight would make it five in a row on their travels.

5.46pmTottenham are currently fifth in the Premier League having picked up 16 points from their opening eight matches, and they have established themselves as a very hard team to beat. Only two teams have managed it so far this season, although both occasions will have hurt Andre Villas-Boas greatly. The first was a narrow loss to North London rivals Arsenal, while they also suffered a shock 3-0 home defeat to West Ham a couple of weeks ago. That result seems to be a blip, but Villas-Boas needs to ensure that such lapses are few and far between.

5.48pmTo be honest, they shouldn't have too much to worry about tonight, though. Spurs have lost just one of their last 17 Europa League matches and have scored in all of their last 11. They have also kept clean sheets in six of their seven matches away from home this season, which is some record.

5.50pmTEAM NEWS: The team news is in and the eye is immediately drawn to the Tottenham bench, where Emmanuel Adebayor sits for the first time this season. He could make his return, but one man who definitely will make a comeback tonight is Aaron Lennon, who is named in the starting lineup after recovering from injury. Full team news for both sides coming up.

5.50pmTOTTENHAM STARTING XI: Lloris; Naughton, Chiriches, Vertonghen, Fryers; Dembele, Sandro; Lamela, Eriksen, Lennon; Defoe

5.50pmTOTTENHAM SUBS: Friedel, Dawson, Chadli, Holtby, Sigurdsson, Adebayor, Soldado

5.52pmSHERIFF STARTING XI: Tomić; Paye, Metoua, Balima, Samardžić; Stanojević, Moyal; Luvannor, Cadu, Ricardinho; Isa

5.52pmSHERIFF SUBS: Furdui, Stajila, Paireli, Scripcenco, Fernando, Willian Thuran, Pascenco

5.54pmSo, Spurs make seven changes but such is the depth in their squad now that it is still a formidable team. Defoe comes in for Soldado as he looks to edge even further up the club's all-time goalscoring charts, while the trio of Lamela, Eriksen and Lennon would be a handful for any defence.

5.55pmPREDICTION: Right, we're nearing kickoff here in Moldova, which means that it is about time I made a prediction. Sheriff will be full of confidence having gone such a long time without tasting defeat, but they simply haven't come up against a side of Tottenham's quality in that run. I can't see anything other than an away victory tonight, and I think it could be quite comfortable. I'll go for 2-0 Spurs, but I wouldn't be surprised to see more than that.

5.57pmThis is a step into the unknown for Sheriff tonight as they have never faced English opposition in any competition before. Tottenham, meanwhile, have come up against Moldovan opposition before, beating FC Zimbru Chisinau 3-0 on aggregate back in 1999.

5.59pmThere are, of course, plenty of other games going on in the Europa League tonight, and you can follow many of them here on Sports Mole. Just click here to see the wealth of goodies that we have on offer for you tonight. I will also be keeping you up to date with goings on from around the continent, keeping a particular eye on the match between Tromso and Anzhi, which is currently 1-0 to the Russian at half time.

1 minKICKOFF: Sheriff Tiraspol get us underway in tonight's match, and this could be a big one for Spurs. If they can qualify tonight then they can use the final three games to blood youngsters and rest players.

3 minIt has been a bright start from the hosts, who are looking to break quickly at every opportunity. They win an early corner and it is a fine delivery from Luvannor which forced Vertonghen to head it over his own bar.

3 minFrom the resulting corner Cadu puts in a similarly good cross, but this time Lloris comes out and gets a good punch to the ball to clear the danger. Very positive start from the Moldovan side, though.

5 minSpurs are just beginning to settle now. They misplaced a few passes in the opening couple of minutes but are now stroking the ball around nicely as they look to dictate the tempo of the game. The hosts don't look like they will be easy to break down, though.

7 minThis one is being played out in midfield at the moment and the last couple of minutes have been quite scrappy. The referee gives a couple of soft free kicks and that is breaking up the match and not allowing either side to get into any sort of rhythm.

9 minMore promising play from the hosts as Isa manages to win a corner from what looked like a lost cause. This time the delivery isn't good, however, and it is easily cleared before a second cross is comfortably claimed by Lloris.

11 minIt hasn't exactly been a thrilling start to this match, but the hosts are just about on top at the moment. They have look more threatening in the final third, although that isn't saying much yet. Isa has looked particularly bright for Sheriff.

12 minGOAL! Sheriff Tiraspol 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur (Jan Vertonghen)

12 minSpurs have not threatened at all so far but, from their first attack, they take the lead. A short corner results in Eriksen whipping the ball into a dangerous area, and Vertonghen comfortably beats his man in the air to nod it into the bottom corner. It all seemed far too easy for Spurs, and I'm not sure everyone realised it had gone in at first, such was the shocked silence around the stadium.

14 minThat really is a blow for the hosts, who had made such a good start to this match. For all of their positive play in attack, they were undone by a simple cross in defence.

15 minOFF THE LINE! Wow, what a fantastic piece of defending that is from Chiriches. Luvannor beats the offside trap and is through on goal, rounding Lloris and appearing to have a simple tap in. He can't do much more to be honest, but Chiriches never gives up on it and slides in to prevent a certain goal. You will do well to see a better piece of defending this season, that was brilliant from the Romanian.

17 minDespite being disappointed at not scoring such a good chance there, it will give the hosts plenty of confidence. They have looked more dangerous than Spurs so far and do look very capable of getting on the scoresheet here.

19 minSheriff break quickly and in numbers to exploit a counter-attack after Spurs had committed many men forward. A low cross into the box is half cleared by Vertonghen only as far as Moyal, whose shot goes a few yards wide.

20 minCHANCE! That is a really good chance for Lennon to mark his return with a goal. He was released by a good flick before trying to give Tomic the eyes from a tight angle, but the Croat keeper stood up and made a very good save to deny the winger.

22 minThis has been a really good contest so far. Many people, myself included, would have been expecting a relatively easy ride for Spurs in this match, but Sheriff did not read the script and are giving as good as they get here. If the first 20 minutes is anything to go by, this will be an almighty tussle for Spurs tonight.

24 minSome good pressure from Defoe forces Tomic to kick the ball out for a throw in in an attacking position for Spurs. Sheriff get back and regroup quickly, however, and Tottenham are forced to play the ball back all the way to their defence.

25 minChiriches floats a lovely ball just over the head of Paye, which sets Lennon free down the wing. White shirts are in short supply in the box, however, and with Defoe heavily marked he tries to cut it back to the edge, where Fryers is dispossessed.

27 minSheriff are playing so deep here that Spurs are struggling to find a way through. The middle of the park is so crowded that the likes of Eriksen, and particularly Lamela, are struggling to get involved at the moment. They are good enough to play through it, but it is going to take patience.

29 minPatient build up from Tottenham but eventual they get tired of the short passes and Eriksen, with very little room to work with, goes for goal from range. His shot is blocked, however, and the ball trickles through to the keeper.

31 minDISALLOWED GOAL! Oh that is unfortunate for Sheriff. Luvannor collects a fine ball over the top and cuts inside before slipping a clever reverse pass into Cadu inside the box. The Brazilian finishes it expertly, smashing his shot into the roof of the net, but the linesman flag is up immediately and the celebrations are cut short. That is the right decision from the official.

32 minCLOSE! Sheriff come forward again, and this time there is no question of offside. Chiriches just fails to cut out a through ball and his slight touch allows Isa to run through on goal. He goes for the far corner with only Lloris to beat, but steers his effort a yard or so past the post. That is a really good chance.

34 minTOTTENHAM SUB: Fryers picked up what looks like a groin strain in the build up to that chance, and he won't be able to continue. Michael Dawson comes on to replace him, which will result in a defensive reshuffle as Vertonghen switches to full-back.

36 minApart from that latest Isa chance, Sheriff have shown that they are capable of finishing off chances in this game. So often the smaller teams, if I can call them that, lack composure in front of goal, but the Luvannor's earlier effort which was cleared off the line and the disallowed goal from Cadu both showed that the Sheriff players do not panic when they have a good chance.

37 minDefoe picks up the ball on the edge of the area and knows his only option is a snapshot, such is the speed that the defence closes him down. He toe-pokes it towards goal but can't keep his effort down as it flies over the bar.

38 minCLOSE! Another chance for Sheriff as Cadu takes a quick free kick to release Isa through the middle. The Bulgarian just can't get the ball under his full control, but does manage to squeeze a low cross into the box that eventually falls to Luvannor. He has his back to goal, but flashes a shot on the turn just over the bar, with Lloris beaten.

40 minThat was really bright play from Sheriff from the quick free kick, and they deserve to be at least level in this match. It is no wonder that they have been so dominant in Moldovan football over the years if they can match one of England's best teams like this. They have been really impressive tonight.

42 minThe hosts have made quite a few of the passes that we were expecting to see from Eriksen or Lamela. They have slipped a number of clever through balls into the area from the edge, finding a narrow gap in the defence. The latest one of these finds Luvannor, but the linesman's flag is rightly raised.

44 minSpeaking of those Eriksen passes, he produces a delightful chipped through ball to find Defoe, who finally has a little space inside the box for the first time today. However, he is clearly not settled into this match as his first touch lets him down and the ball runs out for a goal kick.

45 minThere will be just the one minute of added time at the end of this match.

45+1 minYELLOW CARD! Chiriches becomes the first man in the book for an off-the-ball incident on the halfway line. He was shown the card straight after Moyal had gone for goal from just inside the Tottenham half, only to drag his shot well wide.

45+1 minHALF TIME: Sheriff Tiraspol 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur

6.50pmWell, what an interesting half of football that was. Spurs take the lead into the break, but that is just about all you can say from them from that opening 45 minutes. They are fortunate to be ahead, but chances have been few and far between for them, while they have struggled with the pace of Sheriff's attacks at the other end.

6.52pmThe goal came from the head of Jan Vertonghen in a rare lapse from the Sheriff defence. Eriksen delivery was right on the money, but Vertonghen wasn't challenged heavily enough and, despite having a number of players around him, he rose high above his marker to nod into the bottom corner.

6.54pmOther than that, Sheriff have been very good defensively today. They are packing out the middle of the park which is nullifying the threats of Eriksen, Lamela and Defoe, who have barely had a kick tonight. Spurs haven't really had an answer to that yet and have only really made one chance other than the goal - when Lennon failed to beat the keeper one-on-one.

6.56pmIn attack, Sheriff have been almost unmanageable at times. The defending from Spurs has left a lot to be desired at times, but a lot of credit has to go to the hosts, who have attacked in numbers and with pace. They have had two or three really good chances and, but for a bad miss and a superb piece of tracking back, they could be ahead here.

6.58pmThat great piece of tracking back was the work of Chiriches, who denied Luvannor a certain goal with a magnificent block on the line. The Sheriff man had done very well to round Lloris and he couldn't have done much more to score.

7pmIsa has also missed a glorious chance for the hosts after they found a way through the defence yet again with a perfectly timed run. One run that wasn't quite as well timed was that of Cadu, who saw a goal disallowed - correctly - for offside.

7.02pmTottenham can not afford to take their minds off this game right now, but the news may be filtering through to them that they can no longer qualify tonight. They need a draw in the group's other game for that to be a possibility, but Anzhi have beaten Tromso 1-0. That won't change Tottenham's aim for tonight's match, but they will need to improve on a number of things in the second half if they are to hold on to their lead.

46 minKICKOFF: Spurs get us back underway here. They have a tough second half ahead of them if it is anything like the first.

48 minThis half has started in much the same way as the first did, with both sides struggling to keep hold of the ball for any real amount of time.

50 minIf Sheriff could work the offside trap a little bit better then they would have a real chance here. Once again they break in numbers and comfortably get past the Spurs defence, but not for the first time tonight they are thwarted by the linesman's flag. It is borderline every time, but they are just getting it wrong too often at the moment.

52 minSHOT! That is more like what we were expecting to see from Tottenham. For once they have a bit of space to work with, and Defoe makes a good run off the decoy movement of Lennon. Eriksen finds his striker with the pass, but he couldn't get enough on the shot to trouble the keeper.

54 minMore good football from Sheriff, who have picked up where they left off in this second half. An initial cross is too long for Luvannor at the back post, but he keeps it in and works it back to Stanojevic, whose long-range strike flies over the bar.

56 minSpurs have a good chance to whip a cross into the box from a free kick, but Eriksen fakes the delivery and instead passes it square to Sandro. The Brazilian takes a touch before shooting, but he is quickly closed down by two sliding challenges as it deflects behind for a corner.

57 minEriksen has another chance to put a cross into the box, this time from open play, but his delivery runs straight through to the keeper. He put it into a dangerous area, but there was no-one attacking it for the visitors.

59 minLamela looks to have got away with on there. In his efforts to hold off Paye he raises an elbow and makes a connection with the full-back's face. Sure enough, Paye goes tumbling to the floor, and Lamela is lucky that the ref didn't see that.

60 minYELLOW CARD! Moyal gets a yellow card for a challenge at the end of another positive piece of play from the hosts. The crowd are angry as Isa was claiming for a penalty moments before having gone down under the challenge of Sandro, but the referee was right to wave it away.

61 minTOTTENHAM SUB: Lamela has not been effective at all tonight, and he trots off the field to be replaced by Nacer Chadli. That will see Lennon move back to the right wing after he had swapped with Lamela earlier in the match.

63 minI wonder if we will see Adebayor tonight. He has had his critics in recent seasons, but he could be exactly the type of player Spurs need right now. They haven't be able to hold the ball up in attack tonight, and he will give them a target and more of a presence up front than Defoe or Soldado.

65 minSpurs have just taken the sting out of the game in the last few minutes, which is wise play from the visitors. They are looking to silence the crowd now and just tire out the hosts, who must be nearing exhaustion after their fine efforts in the first half and the start of this half.

67 minOFF THE POST! So close from Lennon to doubling his side's lead. Lennon jinks this way and that before squeezing out a low shot from the edge of the box. He doesn't catch is quite right, but it still has enough on it to beat Tomic, who is grateful to see the ball bounce back off the inside of the post.

69 minThat Lennon effort came from nowhere really. He was surrounded by yellow shirts but, for once, he managed to get his shot away and so nearly made it 2-0.

70 minSHERIFF SUB: The hosts are forced into making their first change of the day as Moyal limps off with what looks like a hamstring injury. He is replaced by Valentin Furdui, who was part of the Moldova side who faced England in their most recent meeting.

71 minCHANCE! That is a really good chance for Sheriff to level the sides! Once again Tottenham are caught short at the back, and this side certainly have the quality to take advantage of such situations. Ricardinho holds his run on the edge of the box and, when the low cross comes to him, just tries to pass an effort into the bottom corner. It comes off Dawson on the way through, although the Tottenham defender didn't know much about it.

73 minSpurs have been given enough warnings that this 1-0 lead is a precarious one here. They can really have no complaints if Sheriff go on to score an equaliser in this game, but it will be interesting to see how far Villas-Boas goes in an effort to kill this game off.

74 minChiriches advances out of defence with the ball before beating a man and letting fly from 25 yards. His teammates aren't happy with that option, though, especially when they see the ball fly wide.

75 minGOAL! Sheriff Tiraspol 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Jermain Defoe)

75 minOh that is desperately unlucky for the hosts. Out of nowhere, they go 2-0 down having threatened to level the sides for so long. Chadli pulled the ball back to Defoe, whose shot from 25 yards took a big deflection that took it past Tomic and into the top corner. That should be game over.

76 minDefoe has another chance immediately after the restart, but his poked effort bobbles wide of the mark. He is now Tottenham's joint-highest goalscorer in European competition, equalling Martin Chivers's record.

77 minTOTTENHAM SUB: Tottenham's third and final change of the day sees Sandro replaced by Lewis Holtby. Spurs have still not conceded a goal while Sandro has been playing this season.

79 minIt looks like the visitors will see this one out now for another victory in the Europa League this season, but Sheriff can feel really hard done by. They have been very good tonight and deserve a draw from this match.

81 minCHANCE! Oh what a chance that is for the hosts to get themselves back into this match! Luvannor has been brilliant tonight, and he sends a fine ball over the top for Isa, who has stayed onside for once. He chests it down well and only has Lloris to beat but, with the Spurs keeper rushing out to meet him, he pokes it wide of the post. He should have scored there, and that would have set up a very interesting finish to this game.

83 minThey may not have scored tonight, but Sheriff manager Veaceslav Rusnac will be delighted with how his side have attacked at times. If they perform like this in their remaining three games it is hard to see them failing to get out of the group.

84 minSHERIFF SUB: A Brazilian for Brazilian swap here from the hosts as Cadu makes way having had a decent game tonight. He is replaced in the middle of the park by Fernando.

86 minSheriff aren't giving up on this one. They are still attacking with pace and numbers, but they aren't quite carrying the same level of threat that they did for much of this match. They will drop to third in Group K, but expect them to push for that second qualifying spot.

88 minNaughton looks hurt here as he limps off the field. That is a major concern for Spurs, who have already made all three subs tonight. They could have to finish this match with 10 men, which will make them even more thankful for Defoe's goal.

89 minSHERIFF SUB: Vadim Paireli is Sheriff's final change of the day as he replaces Isa, who has been a real thorn in the side of Tottenham tonight.

90 minNaughton has returned to the pitch, by the way, but he is not moving freely. He will be thankful that there are only a couple of minutes left in this match, and that his side have the win already wrapped up.

90 minThe fourth official indicates three minutes of added time at the end of this match.

90+2 minSpurs are happy to let the hosts have possession in these closing stages. They know that they have the three points in the bag now, but they also know that it was by no means plain sailing. Sheriff were the better team for long periods of this match, and they deserve to be drawing here.

90+3 minFULL TIME: Sheriff Tiraspol 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur

7.52pmThe referee brings an end to the match and, in the end, it is a very good win for Tottenham who are now just 90 minutes away from reaching the next round of the Europa League. The scoreline may suggest a routine away victory over European minnows, but that was by no means the case tonight as Sheriff matched and even bettered Spurs for large periods, missing a number of glorious chances and having an effort cleared off the line.

7.53pmThe most important statistic, however, is who wins, and that honour has gone to Tottenham tonight. They maintain their 100% record in the Europa League this season, and they still haven;t conceded a goal in the competition either. They aren't quite over the line yet, but with nine points from a possible nine, you'd have to think that they are as good as through now.

7.55pmRight, that's all we have time for tonight. Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for what was a very intriguing match between Sheriff and Spurs. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for another round of Europa League games that are coming right up!

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Tottenham's Jermain Defoe scores the opening goal against Anji Makhachkala during their Europa League group match on October 3, 2013
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