Spurs beat Sheriff 2-0 to stay perfect in Europa
Tournament favorite Tottenham ground out a 2-0 win at FC Sheriff to stay undefeated in the Europa League and move to the brink of qualification for the knockout stages on Thursday.
Eintracht Frankfurt, Fiorentina, Salzburg and Ludogorets Razgrad also made it three wins out of three, while Swansea, Sevilla, Rubin Kazan and Genk dropped their first points as they were all held to 1-1 draws.
Jan Vertonghen headed Christian Eriksen’s free kick into the left of goal with Spurs’ first attack of the night in the 12th minute and Jermain Defoe sealed the result 15 minutes from time, equaling Martin Chivers club record with his 22nd goal in European competition after the English side withstood severe pressure from Sheriff.
The Moldovan team had the ball in the back of the net on the half hour but the equalizer was ruled out for offside.
“They had some great opportunities on the counterattack,” Tottenham coach Andre Villas-Boas said. “The game could have easily gone to 1-1 as after we scored they had so many chances to level.
“They looked good on the counterattack, 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, so both teams were creating. We were fortunate to get the second goal to kill the game, but it could have gone the other way.”
Tottenham has yet to concede in the opening three games this season and is five points clear of Anji Makhachkala, which beat Tromso 1-0.
Frankfurt also kept a third straight clean sheet as it won 2-0 at home against 10-man Maccabi Tel Aviv. The visitors were forced to play 56 minutes at a numerical disadvantage after Ben Haim was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Vaclav Kadlec put Frankfurt in front in the 13th minute and Alexander Meier doubled the German side’s lead eight minutes into the second half.
In the other Group F game, Bordeaux picked up its first points of the campaign as Carlos Henrique headed home in the final minute to hand the French side a 2-1 win over Apoel Nicosia.
Ludogorets Razgrad has also yet to concede after the Bulgarian team won 1-0 at Chornomorets Odesa.
Fiorentina, which came back from two goals down to beat Juventus 4-2 in Serie A at the weekend, comfortably beat Romanian side Pandurii Targu-Jiu 3-0 to maintain its status as one of the competition favorites.
Joaquin opened the scoring in the 26th minute after skipping past two defenders and forcing his way into the area. Ryder Matos doubled Fiorentina’s lead eight minutes later before Juan Cuadrado sealed the result in the 69th, squeezing a powerful strike in between the goalkeeper and the near post.
Oleksandr Yakovenko also hit the crossbar for Fiorentina, while Cuadrado fired off the upright in stoppage time.
“We’re not running away with the group but we’ve almost qualified for the next round,” Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella said. “But we want top spot so we avoid drawing a Champions League team in the knockout stages.
“When you come off the back of a victory like the one against Juventus, it’s not easy to remain focused. But we managed to and we showed that on the pitch tonight. We want to grow more.”
Meanwhile, Valencia won over its disgruntled fans with a fine 5-1 victory over Swiss side St. Gallen. Valencia was stunned by a 3-0 defeat to Swansea in its opening Europa League match but recovered with a 2-0 win at Kuban Krasnodar on matchday two.
It is now just one point behind Swansea after a late goal saw the English Premier League side held to 1-1 by Kuban Krasnodar, which had no points and had not even scored heading into the match.
Former Liverpool and Marseille striker Djibril Cisse scored from the spot in stoppage time after Ibrahima Balde was fouled by Swansea goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel.
Michu broke the deadlock in the 68th.