Tottenham Hotspur beat Sheriff Tiraspol 2-1 to join seven other teams including fellow former champion Valencia in reaching the Europa League’s round of 32.
Erik Lamela and Jermain Defoe scored last night as Tottenham, the bookmakers’ favorite to win European soccer’s second-tier club competition for the third time, stayed perfect in Group K to move five points clear at the top.
“It was never going to be easy to win and go through,” Defoe, who scored his club-record 23rd goal in European competition, told ITV. “Everyone is delighted.”
Salzburg and Fiorentina also have the maximum 12 points after four group matches and will be joined in the knockout stage by 2004 winner Valencia, Ludogorets Razgard, Esbjerg, Rubin Kazan and Dnipro.
The top two teams in each of the 12 groups advance to the round of 32 alongside the eight third-place finishers from the elite Champions League group stage. The fifth of six group-stage games will be played Nov. 28.
Lamela put Tottenham ahead in the 60th minute at White Hart Lane in London with his first goal since joining the club in August from Roma. Defoe added a penalty kick seven minutes later to move ahead of Martin Chivers on Spurs’ European scoring list.
Isa then scored in the 72nd minute for Sheriff, the first goal allowed by Tottenham in this year’s competition. Anzhi Makhachkala strengthened its hold on second place in the group with a 1-0 at Tromso.
Salzburg beat Standard Liege 3-1 and Esbjerg defeated Elfsborg 1-0 to send both winners through from Group C. Fiorentina won 2-1 at Romanian club Pandurii in Group E on Borja Valero’s stoppage-time goal, while Dnipro also progressed after a 2-0 home win over Pacos Ferreira.
Ludogorets’s 1-1 draw with Chornomorets Odesa was enough to qualify it from Group B, as PSV Eindhoven defeated Dinamo Zagreb 2-0. Oleg Kuzmin’s goal gave Rubin Kazan a 1-0 victory over English F.A. Cup champion Wigan Athletic which sent it through from Group D as Zulte beat Maribor 1-0.
Valencia defeated St. Gallen 3-2 to qualify from Group A, while Swansea dropped to second place following a 1-1 draw at 10-man Kuban Krasnador. Ibrahima Balde scored in stoppage time for the home team after Xandao was sent off for a second yellow.
Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Frankfurt 4-2 in a meeting of the top teams in Group F, and APOEL defeated Bordeaux 2-1. Genk drew 2-2 at Rapid Vienna and leads Group G by a point over Dynamo Kiev, which won 2-0 at Thun.
Two-time champion Sevilla continues to lead Group H after drawing 1-1 with Slovan Liberec, while Estoril and Freiburg finished 0-0. Real Betis beat Guimaraes 1-0 to move ahead of Lyon, which drew 1-1 at Rijeka, in Group I.
In Group J, first-place Trabzonspor beat Legia Warsaw 2-0 and Lazio defeated Apollon 2-1. AZ Alkmaar’s 1-0 win over Shakhter Karagandy moved it into a tie in Group L with PAOK, which drew 0-0 at Maccabi Haifa.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com.