Jermain Defoe became a record-breaker and Erik Lamela scored his first goal in a Spurs shirt as we booked our place in the knockout stages of the Europa League with a 2-1 defeat of FC Sheriff on a successful night at the Lane.
Our England forward wrote his name into our record books by converting a second half penalty, his 23rd Euro goal in our colours to become our all-time leading goalscorer in European competition. He overtook club legend Martin Chivers, who spoke pitchside at half-time at how delighted he would be should Defoe take his record. He didn’t hold on to it for too much longer though!
While Defoe’s achievement was the highlight of the night, Lamela’s first goal was another moment of note and the Argentine impressed throughout the game, on an evening which saw us secure qualification with our fourth straight win the in Group K.
The headline in the team news was the return of Etienne Capoue, making his first appearance since sustaining an ankle injury in the north London derby on September 1, while there were nine changes in total from the side which drew at Everton on Sunday. Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen were the only survivors.
Right from the kick-off we were the dominant side in terms of possession and almost snatched a seventh-minute lead when Mousa Dembele charged forward and let fly from 20 yards with a left-foot drive which Vjekoslav Tomic saved well.
Lamela was certainly seeing plenty of the ball out wide on the right, showing plenty of neat touches and causing the Sheriff defence problems with his trickery. It was his ball into Capoue on 10 minutes that saw the French midfielder fire wide from 25 yards, and eight minutes later Lamela had an effort blocked by Marko Stanojevic.
As in the first game in Moldova two weeks ago, Sheriff carried a threat on the counter-attack and went close to grabbing the lead on one such foray forward on 24 minutes. Ricardinho broke away before laying off to Ismail Isa in the right channel, but his shot deflected off Younes Kaboul, onto the post and away for a corner.
Two minutes later, a loose Christian Eriksen pass went straight to Ricardinho, but he shot wide from 20 yards.
At the half hour mark, the possession stats showed we had seen 78 per cent of the ball but the breakthrough just wouldn’t come, with some last-ditch defending from the visitors helping to keep us at bay. That was never more evident than when their skipper Miral Samardzic dived full-length to block a Lamela half-volley just inside the area.
Defoe was inches away from opening the scoring but just couldn’t get the finishing touch to Gylfi Sigurdsson’s cross as the half moved into stoppage time, before a late surge from Sheriff saw Ricardinho burst down the right channel into the area, but Kaboul came across the thwart any danger.
And it was the visitors who fired the first shot in anger of the second period, Ricardinho again involved as he slipped a pass inside to Luvannor Henrique whose curling effort was saved comfortably by Brad Friedel on 54 minutes.
Then just a minute later, Tomic produced a sensational save to tip over Eriksen’s stinging 25-yard right-foot shot. But he could do nothing on the hour mark to prevent us taking a well-deserved lead. Lamela picked the ball up out wide on the right and played it infield to Eriksen, he clipped a ball into the area as the Argentine winger continued his run and when the ball bounced off Djibril Paye into his path, Lamela stroked home past Tomic at his near post.
And the goal we all wanted came just seven minutes later, with Lamela instrumental again. He jinked his way past three defenders into the area with magnificent close control before being upended by Paye’s outstretched leg and referee Kenn Hansen pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Defoe and there was no way he was going to miss this gilt-edged opportunity to write his name into the record books, smashing right-footed into the top left-hand corner of Tomic’s net to rapturous White Hart Lane celebrations.
The two-goal advantage didn’t last long though as Isa netted from close range for the visitors, following up Cadu’s effort which Friedel parried away - our first goal conceded in this season’s Europa League in our sixth game.
Substitute Paulinho was into the action soon after his 58th-minute entrance in place of Capoue, almost diverting Eriksen’s drilled cross before sending a spectacular bicycle kick over the bar from a Walker centre.
There was almost a third on 89 minutes when substitute Harry Kane forced a smart save from distance out of Tomic, who was quickly up to deny Lewis Holtby from the rebound, but there was to be no further change to the scoreline as Andre Villas-Boas celebrated the 200th game of his managerial career with a win.