Defoe and Lamela fire Spurs into knockout stage
Argentine record signing gets first goal for Londoners
Tottenham, Fiorentina and Red Bull Salzburg made it four group wins out of four in the Europa League on to qualify for the knockout phase with two games to spare.
Record-signing Erik Lamela scored his first goal for Tottenham, and Jermain Defoe converted the winning penalty kick in a 2-1 victory over Sheriff Tiraspol in Group K.
In Romania, Fiorentina won by the same score at Pandurii Targu Jiu after Matos Ryder and Borja Valero scored for the group E leaders, while second-place Dnipro of Ukraine advanced by beating Pacos Ferreira 2-0.
Two teams also are through already from group C, with leaders Red Bull Salzburg winning 3-1 at Standard Liege, and Esbjerg edging Elfsborg 1-0.
Valencia went to the top of group A with a 3-2 win over St Gallen, and will advance to the last 32 along with Russian side Rubin Kazan, Dnipro of Ukraine, and Ludogorets of Bulgaria.
At White Hart Lane, Lamela finally made his mark more than two months after joining from Roma.
The 21-year-old Lamela has been used sparingly by Andre Villas-Boas and is yet to start an English Premier League game for Spurs but he showed his attacking prowess against the Moldovan champions.
Lamela knocked home the opener from close range on the hour before being tripped shortly afterward in the penalty area, Defoe scored from the penalty spot in the 67th. Although Ismail Isa struck a late consolation, there was no comeback to deny Tottenham a fourth straight group K win.
“Lamela was unbelievable tonight, good on the ball, strong,” Defoe said. “Sometimes it is difficult coming to a new club at such a young age.”
Tottenham will have to wait to confirm their status as group winner after second-place Anzhi Makhachkala beat Tromso 1-0 in Norway.