OPPONENTS FC Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova)
COMPETITION Europa League Group K
DATE Thursday 24th October 2013
VENUE Stadionul Sheriff






Despite FC Sheriff winning 12 of the last 13 Moldovan Championships, I know little about their team.

The side comprises mainly of Moldovans and Brazilians, with a few Africans and central Europeans thrown in.  There are some queries about their European credentials, with no great results in the competitions, even though they are in a far flung part of Asia and in their own country - Transnistria -  within Moldova.  That usually ensures that most teams will find it a strange surrounding to play a football match in, but with Tottenham's depth of squad, even with those players missing injured or resting, they should win this comfortably to top the group after three games and thus virtually be through to the knock out stages.

I imagine that their presence in Europe for a large number of years ensured that they were in Pot 3 of the draw, leaving Tromso as the weakest team in the group.  That wasn't counting Anzhi, who then sold all their decent players.

Spurs could play two forwards in this match, to test out the Sheriff's defence, but the preference for AVB to start with one up top and supported by midfielders might be more to his liking, with Lennon giving the pace and getting the full backs pushing up. I would like to see Erik Lamela given 90 minutes, so that he can get used to playing in the side and  even Emmanuel Adebayor might get a run out in case the team need him at some stage soon.

With two wins and no goals conceded, the group provides few real tests, although this might be one of them, with the travelling and everything, but Spurs should come through it without too much trauma.

PREDICTION FC Sheriff (Moldova)    0         Tottenham Hotspur    4
Tottenham's injured lost includes Danny Rose (toe), Younes Kaboul (thigh) and Etienne Capoue (ankle), while Andros Townsend, Paulinho and Kyle Walker have been rested and left back in England.  Emmanuel Adebayor is included in the squad for the match and might play a part for the first time this season.

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FC Sheriff (Moldova)   0 (0)                                                            Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1)
Premier League
Thursday 24th October 2013                                                                                                    Kick off 18:00 (UK time)
Stadionul Sheriff
Vertonghen 12
Defoe 75
Moyal (foul on Lamela)


Chiriches (foul on Luvannor)  45+1  


Crowd :   , Weather :  Dry, chilly
Referee :  Liran Liany (Israel) Assistant Referees :  Shabtai Nahmais, David Elias Biton (Israel)
Fourth Official :  Oren Borneshtain (Israel) Additional Assistants : Menashe Masiah; Daniel Bar Natan (Israel)
UEFA Delegate :  Jean Paul Mievis (Belgium) UEFA Referee Observer : Zoran Petrovic (Serbia)
Sheriff kicked off the first half.
Match time 90+4 minutes
FC Sheriff : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
77  Vjekoslav TOMIC

14  Wilfried BALIMA
15  Marcel METOUA
  Miral SAMARDZIC (c)
  3  Djibril PAYE

21  Kobi MOYAL       (  7  Valentin FURDUI 69)
  CADU  (19  FERNANDO 84)

29  Ismail ISA  (16  Vadim PAIRELI  88)
90  Henrique LUVANNOR

Unused subs: 
12  Dumitru STAJILA
33  William 'Thuram' CELESTINO
  Alexandr PASCENCO
17  Alexandru SCRIPCENCU

  25  Hugo LLORIS

  6  Vlad CHIRICHES     
  5  Jan VERTONGHEN (c) 
35  Zeki FRYERS  (20  Michael DAWSON 34)

19  Mousa DEMBELE
30  SANDRO  (14  Lewis HOLTBY 76)

  7  Aaron LENNON
23  Christian ERIKSEN
33  Erik LAMELA  (21  Nacer CHADLI 61)

18  Jermain DEFOE 

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL

10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR
  9  Roberto SOLDADO

Manager :  Veaceslav Rasnac Manager :  Andre Villas-Boas
Sponsor :    IDC Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  adidas Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

A long trip to an independent part of a far flung Eastern European nation is not the ideal preparations for two games in four days, but this is what Spurs were called upon to undertake ahead of their league and League Cup meetings with Hull City on Sunday and Wednesday.  However, the depth of the squad allowed Andres Villas-Boas to rotate and come out with a fully rounded 0-2 win to keep the 100% record in the Europa League group going, but the match was not without a worry or two.

Sheriff put Spurs under some early pressure with a couple of corners which Vertonghen and Lloris dealt with. There was also pressure on Tottenham's players on the ball to deny them time and space, so it took until the 12th minute for them to mount an attack. A corner was won by Lennon's run down the right and Eriksen and Lamela worked a short corner, with the Dane's cross finding Jan Vertonghen. The captain jumped well above the man who was supposed to be marking him and put the ball into the net from eight yards out. It was a simple goal and despite Sheriff's effort, Spurs were ahead.

The lead might have only lasted until the 15th minute, when a ball through the Spurs defence put Luvannor through and he rounded Lloris to the left, then shot at goal, but Vlad Chiriches had tracked back and threw himself parallel with the ground to block the effort for a corner.

Sheriff were reliant on players breaking at pace, with the Spurs defence often found matched in numbers, but it was similar break at the other end that almost saw Aaron Lennon double the lead. Flicked through by Eriksen, the winger was one on one with the keeper and with Lennon putting his shot low to the keeper's right, his leg kicked the ball out.
A couple of attempts to play Sheriff players through failed to breach the Spurs defence, but the team held the ball well and went forward to build play towards the home team's goal, as the Spurs fans made themselves heard in the chill Transnistria night. Weirdly, it might not have felt that cold to the home side, as their manager was down to a Joachim Loew type V neck jumper, but with a thick scarf around hid neck, while AVB preferred the full length bench coat.

30 minutes in, a ball over Kyle Naughton saw Sheriff get into the Tottenham box and the ball was played to Cadu on the left and his rising shot beat Lloris, but not the linesman, who had noticed he had strayed offside and the goal was ruled out. A minute later, Chiriches was the player who slid for, but failed to reach, a ball through and Isa was in a similar position, but curled his shot wide of the far post.

In the move, Zeki Fryers picked up an injury and Michael Dawson came on for the young full back, with Naughton moving to left back and Chiriches to right back. An attack down the Spurs left saw a low cross pulled back into the middle and the ball flicked off Dawson before falling to Ricardinho, who hit a shot on the turn over the bar.  It took until nearly half time before Defoe got a shot on goal, taking it early, but stabbing it too high. The game fizzled out as the half finished with Chiriches picking up a booking for trying to pull back a Sheriff man, who was breaking past him on the halfway line.

In the 52nd minute, Eriksen slipped Defoe through on the left, but his left foot shot failed to carry much power and Tosic saved simply. When Spurs worked a 55th minute free-kick, Eriksen played to Sandro, 25 yards out and his shot was blocked for a corner, with two Sheriff players colliding in trying to prevent his effort being on target. It ended with Cadu coming off worse and needing treatment.  Isa once more got a ball run to him in the box, but he was robbed by a good tackle by Sandro, but the Sheriff man made such a lot of the challenge that he managed to roll a good ten yards out of the area.  Then Spurs attacked, when Sandro popped off a pass before he got hit by a late challenge and it found Aaron Lennon, who took on his man and moving right, shot left and the ball hit the inside of the post and came out

Spurs were opened up on their right, with a low cross picking out Ricardinho and his shot was deflected wide by Dawson's block in the 71st minute. Tottenham were holding the ball well, but not making a lot of inroads into the Sheriff defence, but the crowded ranks of defenders made Spurs try to over play the ball and when they didn't Chiriches moved forward to the edge of the home team's box to fire over, with Lennon free outside him.  But, just afterwards, in the 75th minute, Nacer Chadli touched a little ball back in front of Jermain Defoe and from 25 yards out, his fierce shot flicked off Balima to flat-foot the keeper and fly into the net to put Tottenham 2-0 up. It was a typical Defoe goal and one that had not looked like coming for him, but it put him level with Martin Chivers on 22 European goals.

At 2-0, the Sheriff's game plan was shot. They looked disheartened and Spurs were taking their foot off the pedal, which almost lead to them being caught out, with Isa being played in over the top and being met by Lloris racing out, forcing him to toe the ball past the French keeper, but wide of the goal with ten minutes left.  The Holtby to Defoe move that has worked so well in Europe almost paid off again, but with seven minutes left, the offside flag saved the little forward the embarrassment of his shot finding the keeper's midriff.

An ankle injury to Naughton in the last five minutes saw him have to leave the field for treatment, during which Fernando hit a shot over the top from 20 yards. When Kyle did return, he was running tenderly on his left ankle. That left Tottenham playing keep ball to prevent Sheriff getting after the left back and the end of the game came with an anti-climax.

Lamela is still finding his feet and while a lot of fans are asking if he was worth 30 million, it is still relatively early days, but Chadli worked hard and wanted to take people on, while Sheriff's players seemed to be content to try to take Spurs players out at the end of the game.  Lennon didn't have the most impressive game, but still did enough to worry the home side's back four and hit a post, while Defoe didn't do too much ... except score !!  It is what he is there for.  Lloris was on his toes when required and the back four played fast and loose with an attacking mindset, but this did allow Sheriff the freedom in our last third.  Eriksen showed some nice touches, but was not as imposing as he has shown, while Sandro had a quiet game for The Beast.

Not that any of that mattered too much, as we won 2-0 without over-exerting ourselves and some of these players will no doubt be featuring in the League Cup tie against Hull City next Wednesday.  Then again against Sheriff for the return at the Lane on 7th November.  After that, qualification as group winners might be signed and sealed.

James Martindale


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What you thought
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Europa League Group K Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Tottenham Hotspur 3 3 0 0 7 0 9 +7
2 Anzhi Machachkala 3 1 1 1 1 2 4 -1
3 FC Sheriff 2 0 2 1 1 3 2 -2
4 IL Tromso 3 0 1 2 1 5 1 -4


Position before match :  1st
Position after match :  1st


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