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Tottenham Stays Perfect to Close on Europa League Knockout Berth

Tottenham Hotspur beat Sheriff Tiraspol 2-0 to join four other teams in continuing perfect starts in soccer’s Europa League and move to the brink of a berth in the knockout stage.

Jan Vertonghen and Jermain Defoe scored last night as Tottenham won its third straight game. Eintracht Frankfurt, Fiorentina, Ludogorets and Salzburg also have the maximum nine points at the midway point of the group stage in Europe’s second-tier club competition.

Vertonghen put Tottenham ahead in the 12th minute in Moldova and Defoe clinched the victory in the second half with his 22nd goal in European competition, tying Martin Chivers’s club record.

Tottenham, the tournament favorite with bookmakers on, has a five-point lead in Group K over Anzhi Makhachkala, which beat Tromso 1-0. A victory at home to Sheriff on Nov. 7 in the next round of games would guarantee Spurs a place in the round of 32.

The top two teams in each of the 12 groups advance alongside the eight third-place finishers from the elite Champions League group stage.

Frankfurt leads by five points in Group F after a 2-0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, while Bordeaux beat APOEL 2-1. Fiorentina beat Pandurii 3-0 to top Group E ahead of Dnipro, which won 2-0 at Pacos Ferreira.

In Group C, Salzburg beat Standard Liege 2-1 to stay three points clear of Esbjerg, a 2-1 winner at Elfsborg. Ludogorets won 1-0 at Chornomorets to keep its 100 percent record in Group B, while Dinamo Zagreb and PSV Eindhoven drew 0-0.

Final Seconds

Djibril Cisse scored with a penalty kick in the final seconds of stoppage time to give Kuban Krasnador a 1-1 draw at Swansea. The Swans lead Group A by a point over Valencia, which routed Saint Gallen 5-1.

Wigan stayed second in Group D after a 1-1 home draw against leader Rubin Kazan, while Maribor beat Zulte 3-1. The perfect run of Group H leader Sevilla, which won back-to-back UEFA Cup titles in 2006 and 2007, was ended by a 1-1 draw at Slovan Liberec. Freiburg and Estoril also finished 1-1.

Genk dropped its first points in drawing 1-1 with Rapid Vienna though still leads Group G over Dynamo Kiev, which beat Thun 3-0. Trabzonspor defeated Legia Warsaw 2-0 to move atop Group J ahead of Lazio, which drew 0-0 at Apollon Limassol.

Lyon beat Rijeka 1-0 and Real Betis defeated Guimaraes 1-0 to leave the victors tied atop Group I. PAOK beat Maccabi Haifa 3-2 to take over the top spot in Group L from AZ Alkmaar, which drew 1-1 at Shakhter Karagandy.

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