Jermain Defoe continues to light up Europe despite not starting in league

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Despite not starting a Premier League match yet this season, Jermain Defoe doesn’t seem to have lost any form. He scored Tottenham Hotspur’s first two goals on Thursday on the way to a 3-0 win over Tromsø in the UEFA Europa League.

With his brace, Defoe pulled within two goals of Spurs’ European record, with 20 in his career in continental competitions for the club. Only Martin Chivers has scored more often in competitive matches against teams from other countries.

Defoe opened the scoring in the 21st minute. He picked up Erik Lamela’s through ball after a streaking run across the face of the penalty area to the right side, chipping the ball back across goalkeeper Marcus Sahlman. In the 29th minute, he produced a mirror image, running across to the left and sliding a ball inside the far post after a pass from Lewis Holtby.

Granted, Defoe’s two starts of the year have come against Tromsø and Dinamo Tbilisi, neither of which come close to the quality Tottenham faces every weekend in the league, but four goals in 180 is still impressive. In 28 league minutes against Arsenal and Crystal Palace, Defoe has not scored yet, mostly overshadowed for the starting spot by Roberto Soldado.

His European performances have been enough to stay in the England set-up, as Roy Hodgson called Defoe up for World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine earlier in September, although he has not seen the field for his country since a substitute appearance in a 1-1 draw against Ireland in May.

“It’s frustrating when you have worked really hard in preseason,” he told The Daily Express. “A boxer trains for eight weeks before a fight, and then on fight night, he wants to be ready and perform, but he actually takes part. I went away [over the summer], worked hard and made sure I was fit. I felt sharp and stronger than ever, so it’s difficult when you are in and out of the team.”

Still, Defoe continues to deliver goals.

In an interview with the BBC that is set to air in full on Saturday, Defoe expressed an ironic sentiment for his frustration in sitting on the bench.

“You want to play every game,” he said. “You want to start games. You might come off the bench and score one goal, but you might start the game, play 90 minutes and score two.”

Players are told to take their opportunities when they come, and Defoe has done that well. Spurs manager André Villas-Boas can take comfort in knowing he has a solid option available if Soldado starts to waver at any point.

“Proud” hat trick hero Kane raves at shorthanded Spurs win

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This could’ve gone much worse for Spurs.

Dele Alli and Jan Vertonghen were suspended, and Christian Eriksen was sick.

[ RECAP: APOEL 0-3 Spurs ]

Never mind all that: Harry Kane was healthy, and scored three goals as Spurs kept pace with group mates Real Madrid in filing a 3-0 win at APOEL Nicosia in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

Kane said he was very proud of the side’s performance, as youngster Anthony Georgiou and seldom-used Georges-Kevin N’Koudou put in shifts in the win. From the BBC:

“We weren’t pleased with the first-half and a couple of chances could have gone the other way. We were more clinical and in the Champions League that is what you have got to be.

“We are missing a few players but the lads who stepped in were fantastic. We have a solid squad and you have to be ready. 3-0 away in the Champions League no matter who you play is a good result.”

Kane has 11 goals in September between club and country, and has six hat tricks in 2017. There may not be a finer big striker firing in Europe right now, and both England and Spurs will hope to ride him well into 2018.

Spartak Moscow 1-1 Liverpool: Frustrated Reds come back for point

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A point from far from home is not the end of the world, but Liverpool will rue its missed chances in a 1-1 draw at Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

Goalkeeper Artyom Rebrov had a stellar day for Spartak before being injured and then replaced by Aleksandr Selikhov, who was also strong for the Russians.

Fernando (not that one) scored a free kick for Spartak, while Philippe Coutinho bagged the equalizer that keeps the Reds ahead of Spartak on goal difference. Both sides are three points behind Sevilla.

Liverpool visits Maribor on Oct. 17, while Spartak will host Sevilla.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]  

Roberto Firmino saw a promising header saved, and Brazilian attack partner Philippe Coutinho cleared a launch pad for countryman Fernando with a needless foul minutes later.

The 25-year-old ex-Sampdoria man that curled a free kick over the wall, and not too near to a post. Loris Karius was too slow to move, and the ball found its way to the back of the net. 1-0.

Sadio Mane was lively as usual, and let fly with a low drive for Spartak backstop Rebrov to collect inside the six.

Coutinho made amends with a solidly struck equalizer just after the half-hour mark, working a 1-2 with Mane and lacing a shot beyond the hopes of Rebrov.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Spartak wasn’t sleeping to start the second half, and both Karius and his Russian counterpart Rebrov had work to do early.

Rebrov needed to be substituted following a collision with Mohamed Salah and long delay. A Man of the Match candidate, would the goalkeeper swap tilt the scales?

Manchester City 2-0 Shakhtar Donetsk: KDB pulls the strings

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A Man of the Match performance from Kevin De Bruyne was just enough to send Man City past plucky Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

David Silva assisted De Bruyne’s second half goal, and Bernardo Silva set up Raheem Sterling for the second just before time.

Alone in first, City will host Napoli on Oct. 17 while Shakhtar is off to Feyenoord.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]  

Kevin De Bruyne set Sergio Aguero up for a chance that was well-covered by Shakhtar backstop Andriy Pyatov.

De Bruyne had the best chance of the first half, working himself into a “Surely” position only to miss his mark with a shot and leave the match scoreless.

At the other end, Ederson made an excellent save on Marlos.

Fittingly, De Bruyne helped set himself up for the opener, winning the ball and working a 1-2 with David Silva to finish with style.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Leroy Sane won a penalty for City, but Sergio Aguero’s tame effort was saved. At the other end, John Stones was directing traffic when a ball hit his arm. No call from the officials.

APOEL Nicosia 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur: Kane nets hat trick

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Cyprus has been kind to Harry Kane.

The English striker scored thrice for Spurs, who join group mates Real Madrid on six points after a 3-0 win at APOEL Nicosia in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

The Bernabeu is next for Spurs, an Oct. 17 date with 2-0 Real Madrid, while APOEL will host Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]  

Hugo Lloris flubbed an early clearance and was fortunate to see the back-bounding ball dribble wide of his left post.

Carlao could’ve given APOEL a surprise lead close to halftime but headed wide of the net from within 10 yards.

Kane nearly added an assist to his ledger at the start of the second half, but Son Heung-min just missed his effort wide of the frame.

He scored another goal anyway, and another one. Moussa Sissoko set Kane up for the second of the night, a relatively simple finish for the striker, and Kane completed his trio of goals when he headed Kieran Trippier‘s cross home.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]