FC Sheriff turned Group H on its head after Benjamin Balima's header set the Moldovan titleholders on course for a win that ended FC Twente's 17-match unbeaten start to the season.
Steve McClaren's side had been in inspired form, but for much of the night in Tiraspol they were bereft of ideas. Instead it was Sheriff, the team that began the day at the foot of this UEFA Europa League section, who were superior throughout, even if they had only Balima's 41st-minute header to show for it until deep into added time. With Twente labouring for an equaliser, Vladimir Volkov broke and squared for fellow substitute Jymmy França to make it 2-0.
It was nothing more than Sheriff merited. The hosts probed from the off, visiting keeper Sander Boschker making a smart save to tip over an Andrei Corneencov effort although there was nothing clever about his decision to come out to clear the ball by his corner flag moments later. Aleksei Kuchuk beat him to it and his cutback eventually found Balima who wastefully blazed over – he would not make the same mistake twice.
The play became fractious but, with half-time approaching, gaps emerged in both blanket defences. First Douglas nodded over a corner for the Dutch club from all of two metres; it was another header from the Brazilian, this time in his own box, which led to the breakthrough. It fell at Luis Antonio Rodríguez's feet and the left-back steadied himself before delivering a sumptuous deep cross which Balima, peeling off the hapless Douglas, headed in emphatically.
Twente never recovered. Having mustered one meaningful shot on target in the first period from Miroslav Stoch, they managed just one more after the restart, home custodian Stanislav Namaşco tipping over Blaise Nkufo's drive. Sheriff posed the greater menace through Kuchuk and Rodríguez free-kicks, before França wrapped up the points late on. The Eredivisie leaders' fans will expect much more when the sides – now level in Group H – meet again in a fortnight.