Three goals in the space of six minutes steered Tottenham Hotspur FC to a 3-1 comeback victory over Shamrock Rovers FC
in a pulsating Group A tie.
Kept in check by a semi-professional side playing their first competitive game in England in more than half a century, Tottenham trailed to Stephen Rice's shock 51st-minute opener. But Roman Pavlyuchenko levelled on the hour and Jermain Defoe put the hosts ahead 60 seconds later before Giovani Dos Santos made sure of Spurs' first win of the campaign.
It could have been a very different first half were it not for an inspired performance by Rovers keeper Richard Brush and a helping hand from the woodwork. Brush made two superb close-range saves in succession to turn a Defoe shot onto the crossbar, after the England striker was put through on the break by Giovani, and then deny Pavlyuchenko.
The frame of the goal rescued the Irish outfit again when Giovani fed Daniel Rose and the midfielder's first-time chip hit the bar; Sébastien Bassong's follow-up was blocked. Pavlyuchenko then had a header cleared off the line by Stephen O'Donnell and saw a low drive whistle just past the post as Spurs turned up the pressure before the break.
Rice broke the deadlock against the run of play when he turned in Patrick Sullivan's barrelling low drive from the edge of the area. But Spurs, who had not scored in three previous home games in Europe, finally found their scoring boots. Pavlyuchenko rose to meet Giovani's cross from the left with a powerful header and Defoe promptly scored a copycat goal from Andros Townsend's ball into the area. Defoe then turned goalmaker, setting up Giovani to lash the ball into the roof of the net.