A decent result, and an acceptable performance, from Tottenham. Nobody will be skipping away from White Hart Lane with glee tonight, though there was encouragement to be found in Erik Lamela's occasional twinkle-toed excellence. While I'm certainly impressed at the depth of Tottenham's current squad – this result was after all achieved despite them making nine changes – I'm not totally blown away by their chance-fashioning skills. They may have scored two here, but one was assisted by a defender's backside, and the other was a penalty. Still, a win's a win, and this was indubitably one of those. Thanks for your company, it's been a blast. Bye!
Final score: Tottenham 2-1 Sheriff Tiraspol
90+4 mins: Peeeeeeeeeeeeep peeeeeeeeep! It's all over, and Spurs are into the last 32. Elsewhere in Group K, Anzhi have scored a 94th-minute goal to beat Tromso 1-0.
90+3 mins: The ball is sent towards the keeper, but it's not a very kind delivery – behind him, and perhaps belly-button height, on the edge of the area. Tomic tries what would have been a ludicrously amazing volley, and misses the ball entirely.
90+3 mins: Sheriff win a free-kick on the right – and the keeper's coming up for it!
90+1 mins: And we have dipped our big toe into a three-minute-big stoppage-time pool.
90 mins: Spurs are passing the ball about, happy to kill the game now.
89 mins: Chance for Spurs! Kane shoots fiercely from distance, Tomic can't gather the ball and Holtby gets to it first, but can't get any power on his shot.
87 mins: Sheriff take off Luvannor, who's in no hurry to leave, and bring on Jhulliam.
84 mins: Defoe's goal, of course, made him Tottenham's all-time leading scorer in European competition, which is as useless a statistic as you could hope to find, about which there's been an indecent fuss. It's only 23 goals, and only goes to emphasise the club's lack of European pedigree. The all-time top European goalscorers, after all, have got 70. I'm not sure 23 is anything to be getting excited about.
81 mins: Eriksen goes off, and Holtby comes on, completing Tottenham's substitutions for the evening.
79 mins: "Shall we sing a song for you?" ask the Spurs fans. A bit mean, given that Sheriff have no fans here. Like, literally none. About 20 people in the directors' box, and that's yer lot.
78 mins: Another cross from the right finds Paulinho, but this time the cross is deflected and a bit loopy, and Paulinho's athletic overhead thing flighs high. It's a real game of two halves, this one (in which the first half lasted an hour and the second has got to stop after just 30 minutes).
76 mins: Chance for Spurs! Eriksen crosses from the right, and Paulinho arrives at pace to send a volley over the bar. "One of my best mates played the sherif in this," writes Rob Smith. "It's a western about erectile dysfunction. The jokes (one of them) was that the sherif couldn't shoot straight. Possibly apt in this game, judging by your mbm – until a few minutes ago anyway." Indeed. They can't stop scoring now.
73 mins: Substitution for Sheriff, and Pascenco is on, while Cadu is off. They want more goals!
GOAL! To the other team! Tottenham 2-1 Sheriff!!
72 mins: Just as the match seemed entirely over, Friedel uncomfortably palms away a vicious shot from the edge of the area, and Isa does quite well to get his left-foot hip-high volley on target, however unguarded the target was at the time.
Tottenham Hotspurs 2-0 Sheriff
69 mins: Harry Kane, who looked very good against Hull in the Capital One Cup last week, comes on for Sigurdsson.
GOAL! Another goal! For Tottenham! Jermain Defoe this time!
67 mins: That's how to take a penalty, boys and girls. Slammed high into the roof of the net, middle of the left half of the goal, with the keeper heading low to the right – though he could have gone any way he liked, he still wouldn't have stopped that.
Penalty to Tottenham!
66 mins: Lamela twinkles back into the area, and this time he needs only the very slightest contact from Paye to tumble, and the referee peeps his whistle obligingly.
63 mins: Lamela, who's been the brightest of Tottenham's rather dim lightbulbs this evening, jinks to the edge of the area and shuffles the ball to Defoe, whose first time effort isn't up to much.
62 mins: Sheriff have been rocked by that goal, and talking of sheriffs that rock… "A bit leftfield maybe," writes Robin Hazlehurst, "but the best sheriff ever is unquestionably the French punk band Les Sheriff, which in my book makes Sheriff Tiraspol the utterliest hipsterest choice of teams to support – Zdob si Zdub and sneering Gallic Gauloises rock. Or am I a bit out of date in my hipsterdom?" I'm not sure Zdob si Zdub have ever been the hipster's choice, sadly.
GOAL! It's only a GOAL! Erik Lamela has scored it! A goal!
60 mins: GOAL! Lamela passes infield to Eriksen, whose throughball towards Paulinho isn't much cop and bounces off Paye's arse to Lamela, who smacks in inside the near post from 10 yards.
59 mins: Paulinho is on, and Capoue is off.
56 mins: Shot of the night! Eriksen carris the ball forward and inside from the left before shooting from, ooh, at least 35 yards, and Tomic tips it over!
54 mins: Luvannor takes Ricardinho's pass on the edge of Tottenham's penalty area, turns, and hits a first-time left-foot shot too close to Friedel. And next up is a musical sheriff nomination, courtesy of Stephen Stiles! Must admit to moshing to this in my youth…
51 mins: Just before half-time the Spurs fans indulged in a chorus of "let's pretend we've scored", followed by one of "1-0 to the Tottenham". It's the best chance they've had of giving that one an outing, and Eriksen's just been booked for pulling back a Sheriff player to prevent a break. "Seth Bullock from HBO's criminally cancelled Deadwood," reckons James Barnes, talking of Sherifs. "He walked the walk, beat Lovejoy up and slept with all the best babes. Including Heisenberg's Mrs! Hard to beat."
48 mins: No changes for the second half, with Sigurdsson still on the right and Lamela on the left, where they ended the first half. Our favourite sheriffs, continued: "Gotta be Sheriff Bell from No Country for Old Men," submits Drew Chappell. "That scene where he drinks the milk in the caravan is … SUMMINELSE."
46 mins: They're off! Again! Kick-off is slightly delayed to allow Benjamin Balima to do some extravagant pitchside praying.
It's been a frustrating half for Spurs, who have had most of the possession but fewer actual goalscoring chances. I'm not convinced by this whole 3-1 attacking force of theirs, I must say – it seems quite easily frustrated by a reasonably organised defence, such as Sheriff's here, or Hull's last week. Anyway, shall we have some favourite sheriffs? Here's Peter Edwards': "Sheriff Sam Deeds in John Sayles 1996 film Lone Star. A fine murder mystery with plenty of twist and fine performances especially Kris Kristofferson as lawman-turned-bad, Charlie Wade." Not one I've any first-hand experience of, but here's a picture for you:
Half-time: Tottenham 0-0 Sheriff
45+1 mins: Ricardinho is suddenly through on the right, and someone – presumably Isa – is unmarked to his left, if he could only square the ball. Instead he tries to cut inside, Kaboul gets a foot to the ball, the chance is lost and the half ends. Ricardinho, though, goes to ground and is being treated by the visiting club's phsyios as the other players head indoors.
45 mins: As the fourth official holds up the number one, Sigurdsson's deflected cross heads straight to Defoe at the near post. It's Tottenham's only proper chance of the half, and the striker misses the ball entirely, and it bounces between his legs to safety.
43 mins: Look! A picture! On the pitch, Lamela – now switched to the left – skips to the byline, cuts inside and then crosses low to nobody-in-particular, and Sheriff clear.
40 mins: So, who's your favourite sheriff then? #Rosco
38 mins: There's not a lot of much happening at the moment. There, that's you up to date.
34 mins: Eriksen tries a clever reverse through-ball to Defoe, but Tomic comes off his line quickly to claim it. Tottenham too often this season seem to be capable of scoring either from 25 yards or from the penalty spot.
32 mins: "How close is Holtby to selection for the German national team these days?" asks David Wall. "He seems a bit unlucky in that respect, that Germany have an embarrassment of riches in the kind of role that he plays that puts almost every other country to shame. You could almost name an entire XI of world class German attacking midfielders. Is it too late for him to switch allegiances to England after all or has he been capped in a competitive international (assuming he might be open to the change, of course)? And for him it's doubly cruel that he's encountered a similar situation at Spurs, and was injured early this season when people were staking their claims among all the new signings. Do you think he has much chance of becoming one of the key players there or will he always play second-fiddle to Erikson?" Well, that's a lot of questions to ask a guy who's trying to provide minute-by-minutely updates of an ongoing match. Anyway, I can tell you that Holtby played two minutes of a Euro 2012 qualifier against Azerbaijan in June 2011, and is thus permanently and irrevocably German. I think he's good enough for Tottenham's first team, and they should probably have kept some of their summer money in their pockets and let him have a go. He's probably been disadvantaged by his small transfer fee, much as Steven Pienaar seemed to be when he arrived.
29 mins: As Lamela's shot is well blocked by Samardzic, here's the Spurs-related comedy tweet of the day.
27 mins: Another chance for Sheriff! Christian Eriksen has the ball, about 30 yards from his goal on Tottenham's right, and he strangely opts to pass infield to Ricardinho, whose shot flies a yard wide of the near post.
25 mins: Sheriff break, Ricardinho running down the middle before feeding Ismael Isa to his right, and his shot comes off Kaboul, against the post and behind for a corner! The corner, incidentally, is terrible.
21 mins: Lamela lollipops his way into the penalty area, where he's fouled by Djibril Paye. He stumbles, but doesn't fall, and then collapses as soon as Kobi Moyal approached, and no penalty is given. Had he fallen in the right way, at the right time, that could have been a penno.
18 mins: Patronela Maly's savage summary of Defoe's style: "Shoots from silly angles, possibly with eyes closed. Movement is poor. No awareness of teammates. Entirely predictable. Rarely scores against top sides. Infuriating." Crumbs. Lamela's 25-yarder is blocked.
16 mins: Tottenham's shots are being taken from ever greater distances, and missing the goal by ever greater margins. Latest to have a pop was Kyle Naughton, whose 40-yard effort flew a good 15 yards wide.
15 mins: The highlight of the last few minutes was the moment when two Sheriff players accidentally tackled each other in midfield. Otherwise, there's been a lot of possession-gifting.
13 mins: "I seem to remember Defoe scoring a vital goal for England at the 2010 World Cup that secured their progression from what was seen as an E.A.S.Y. group," sniffs Dan Schulwolf. "I know he is getting on in years, but I find it interesting that he has been so frequently dropped for important games. At the very least he won't get him sent off 17 minutes into a derby á la Adebayor." Yes, if that's where your bar is set, Defoe certainly sails over it.
10 mins: Spurs pass the ball pleasantly through midfield, and Etienne Capoue slams a 30-yard right-footed grundlehammer just wide of the far post.
9 mins: A fine chorus of When the Spurs go Marching In rumbles around the Lane. The men in white are not visibly inspired.
7 mins: Great save! Dembele bursts forwards, and when he reaches the edge of the penalty area he thumps the ball goalwards with his left peg, and Vjekoslav Tomic dives to his right to push the ball away.
6 min: A replay of that Samardzic foul shows the studs of his right foot missing the ball and landing on Lamela's ankle. We've seen red cards waved for those, but a yellow would seem a bare minimum.
5 min: Spurs are settling into their pass-the-ball-through-midfield-nicely-then-give-it-away rhythm, though the last attack seemed only to break down when Lamela was horribly assaulted by Miral Samardzic. The referee, who was closer than I was, didn't see a foul at all.
2 min: Shefiff have the first attack, with Luvannor working his way into the penalty area and Kyle Walker tackling him. "You have to feel somewhat sorry for Defoe, stayed loyal to Spurs through thick and thin (mainly thin), has a good goal to minutes played conversion rate, never involved in any scandal, never gets himself into trouble but for some reason manager after manager thinks he's a man for the bench. Anyone know why?" asks David Flynn. I think he's the worst kind of striker for a manager to have: flawed enough to encourage you to replace him, good enough to probably be better than the replacement.
1 min: We're off! Sheriff do the honours, with Ismael Isa tapping the ball back for one of the back four to hoick it forwards.
OK, so now we've had the handshakes and the ads and everything. Action genuinely imminent.
Enough chit-chat – the players are in the tunnel, and some dramatic choral music is on the tannoy. Action imminent.
What do we think about Erik Lamela? I think he looks technically excellent, and can't wait for him to start doing, well, something with his talent. I do feel it'll come.
Andre Villas-Boas has been chatting
"We decided to rest [several players] including the goalkeeper, obviously bearing in mind the incident that happened," says Villas-Boas. "He doesn't have to go through the burden of this game. We want to do well in this competition. The team we've thrown out on the pitch is very very strong, and it's always a window of opportunity for people who will be jumping to get an opportunity in the Premier League. Probably a fair result over there would have been a draw, bearing in mind the chances they had. It was a competitive game. They will come here with nothing to lose so I will expect an open game." An open game would be nice, thanks.
"I'm pretty sure I am the only person in the US (or possibly anywhere in the world outside Moldova) who is still fuming because one of the very bands you just mentioned, Zdob si Zdub, got robbed in the 2011 Eurovision song contest," wrote JR, just before I mentioned that very song. "Their entry, So Lucky, was clearly the best." Sadly the only country that thought so at the time was Romania, and they always think the Moldovan entry is the best. Zdob si Zdub limped home in 12th place, a humiliating three points behind Britain, who were proudly represented that year by Blue.
"Zdob si zdub are great," says Fred Thomas. "They were representing Moldova at the Eurovision twice I believe. There was someone on a unicycle with a pointy hat I remember. I don't have a clip. Anyone?" Well, if you insist…
Jermain Defoe has slammed, or at least criticised, AVB's selection policy in an interview on Sky. He says his performances in the Europa League, where he's scored six goals already this season, prove that he can thrive in Tottenham's formation, as the lone striker ahead of three forwards. "It's been frustrating," he says.
So Lloris isn't even on the bench, after all that guff. And here's a geopolitical update from Gary Naylor: "Moldova is an old province of Greater Romania and many Moldovans would like to see it so today. Moldova as an independent state, is an invention of the USSR and, with Russia supporting the breakaway Transnistria region with cheap hydrocarbons, the resentment continues. Chisinau is a lovely city though."
The teams are in!
And they look extraordinarily similar to these:
Spurs: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Naughton, Capoue, Dembele, Lamela, Eriksen, Sigurdsson, Defoe. Subs: Archer, Lennon, Paulinho, Soldado, Chiriches, Holtby, Kane.
Sheriff: Tomic, Balima, Samardzic, Metoua, Djibril Paye, Stanojevic, Cadu, Moyal, Ricardinho, Isa, Luvannor. Subs: Stajila, Furdui, Paireli, Fernando, Celestino William, Celestino William, Pascenco, Jhulliam.
Referee: Kenn Hansen (Denmark).
Exclusive showbiz gossip!
I was just downstairs in the main lobby area of Kings Place, site of the Guardian HQ, and Victoria Wood was there, with actor and BT Internet ad star Daniel Rigby! I can say no more. Mainly because that's all I saw. They were on a sofa.
Good evening world!
It's quite hard to find a chart that only covers Moldova, rather than lumping them in with Romania. There may only be 3.5 million Moldovans, but surely don't deserve to be dumped in a big musical pot with their neighbours to the west. So while the local outpost of Kiss FM reckon that this Romanian song is currently No2 in the local hit parade – behind a two-year-old Emeli Sande effort – I recommend that you listen instead to Igor Cuciuc's undeniably Moldovan stonker Moldovanu Cit Traieste, which contains an admirable number of people in national dress and some superlatively cheesy grins. I don't speak the language, but I have watched the video in full and believe that the song is about a group of people who are trying to gain access to a Carpathian mountain daytime disco, only for a couple of overweight bouncers to repeatedly turn them away using trumpets. The group of potential party-goers obviously take this news badly, and attempt to convince the bouncers to let them in using the medium of traditional dance. It's something of an epic.
If that appeals, and you want a similar number of people in traditional Moldovan dress but perhaps graduating to a slightly more modern musical idiom, I can also recommend this effort from Zdob si Zdub – part popular music video, part mini-movie about an Italian tourist seeking a mysterious ruddy-cheeked singing grandmother. Really, watch these two videos. They will improve your life.
And in case you want some actual football information in your prologue: Sheriff are top of the Moldovan league after 11 wins and one defeat in their first 14 games, which isn't bad considering that they only had one point after the first two games of the season. Their striker Vadim Paireli turns 18 tomorrow. The big question, minutes before the team-sheets are submitted, is whether the recently-concussed Hugo Lloris will start, with Tottenham a win away from qualification for the last 32. André Villas-Boas has promised "a lot of changes".
Now, plug your headphones in and rock on down to these two Moldovan beauties while I grab some pre-match dinner. I'll be back at 7.30pm. Ta-ra for now.
Simon will be here from 7.30pm GMT. In the meantime, here's the small spat that André Villas-Boas and Roberto Martínez have been having.
The Spurs manager André Villas-Boas on Wednesday called for an apology from Romelu Lukaku and greater scrutiny into the Everton striker's role in the incident that left goalkeeper Hugo Lloris with concussion at Goodison Park. Villas-Boas has been criticised for allowing Lloris to continue in the goalless draw, prompting sympathy from his Everton counterpart who has called for a rule change to enforce a substitution in the event of a player suffering a head injury.
But the claim that Lukaku could have avoided colliding with the France international received a frosty response from Martínez, who highlighted a second-half incident involving Soldado as the only premeditated offence between the teams.
The Everton manager said: "The good thing is that you can watch the replay and see the video evidence. All Romelu is doing is carrying on his run and he can't disappear. It is unfortunate. I don't think André Villas-Boas mentioned there was any intent or wrongdoing. He only mentioned maybe he expected a bit of an apology. Obviously we're waiting for Roberto Soldado to apologise to Phil Jagielka and use the same phonecall so we don't have to pay for two phonecalls."