Needing a two-goal win to reach the next round after last week’s 1-0 reverse in Belgium, we made the perfect start with the opener on 10 minutes, Christian Eriksen streaking down the right channel and beating goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic.
But Gent hit back 10 minutes later, Harry Kane putting through his own net from a corner to give the advantage back to the visitors. And when Dele Alli was dismissed six minutes before the interval for a dangerous challenge on Brecht Dejaegere, the momentum was very much with the visitors.
We gave it a real go in the second half though, scoring a deserved second through Victor Wanyama just after the hour mark and having a number of opportunities to get the all-important third goal.
However, it was the visitors who scored next through substitute Jeremy Perbet, scorer of Gent’s goal in the first leg, as they hit us on the counter.
That meant we needed to score twice more to progress but we ran out of steam late on.
As an aside, the attendance of 80,465 at Wembley was the biggest ever crowd for a Europa League match as our fans turned out in fantastic numbers once more.
Mauricio Pochettino made four changes to the team that started at Fulham on Sunday. Hugo Lloris was back in goal for Michel Vorm, Kyle Walker returned for Kieran Trippier and Eric Dier for Harry Winks in what was a return to three at the back, while Mousa Dembele was back in for Heung-Min Son. A quirky stat saw us start the game with more Belgians than the Belgians! We had Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, while Gent began with just two – Brecht Dejaegere and Thomas Foket.
GOAL: SPURS 1-0 GENT (AGG 1-1) – CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN – 10mins
With a competition record crowd inside Wembley and the atmosphere cranked up as the game kicked-off, we made a bright, positive start and were on the front foot from the beginning. And just 10 minutes were on the clock when we took the lead. Dier’s long ball from the back should have been cut out by two Gent defenders but both misjudged the flight of it and Eriksen was in down the right, racing into the area and sliding the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Kalinic.
GOAL: SPURS 1-1 GENT (AGG 1-2) – HARRY KANE (OG) – 20mins
We continued with our attacking intent and defenders Walker and Vertonghen both found themselves in good positions but couldn’t make it count. Then we were hit by an equaliser out of nothing as Danijel Milicevic delivered a floated corner to the back post, Stefan Mitrovic headed back towards goal and the ball flicked off Kane’s head and went in as he jumped to clear the danger.
Above: Jan Vertonghen up against Louis Verstraete.
RED CARD: DELE ALLI – 39mins
Both sides had chances to take the lead, Walker bursting down the right past Kenneth Saief and unleashing a fierce drive which Kalinic parried away to safety. From the corner, Gent broke away and Moses Simon saw an effort blocked for a corner of their own, which prompted a scramble in our area before the danger was cleared. Our task was then made all the more difficult when Dele was given a straight red card by referee Manuel De Sousa for a dangerous tackle on Dejaegere.
GOAL: SPURS 2-1 GENT (AGG 2-2) – VICTOR WANYAMA – 61mins
Despite the man disadvantage, we were the team playing all the attacking football in the early stages of the second half and had Gent on the backfoot. Kane should have scored on 57 minutes when Eriksen played a clever reverse pass to him but his right foot shot went past the far upright. We then introduced Son for Ben Davies for added attacking impetus and scored within four minutes. Patient build-up saw us move from left to right, Walker laid a ball into the path of Wanyama, who smashed into the top corner from the edge of the area.
GOAL: SPURS 2-2 GENT (AGG 2-3) - JEREMY PERBET – 82mins
While we continued to press forward, we always knew Gent had the potential to hit us on the counter and they did so on 74 minutes when Saief got down the left and sent over a deep cross for Simon, unmarked at the far post, but his header hit the side-netting. But eight minutes later it was 2-2 when Kalifa Coulibaly broke away, his shot rebounded to substitute Perbet and he tucked the ball past Lloris. Son had a glorious chance to put us back in front on 87 minutes when put through by Kane but he hit his effort high and wide and with it went any lingering hopes of a comeback.
MAURICIO POCHETTINO SAID
"We started well, we scored and then we conceded in one action they had because we dominated from the beginning and played the right way. After the sending off I thought we were brave and I’m happy with the performance in the second half. We dominated, scored to make it 2-1 but it’s true, when you take risks when you need another goal and try to score, you give the possibility to the counter-attack and when they scored, the game was over. I’m very proud of the performance and it’s a shame we didn’t play well in the first leg."
VICTOR WANYAMA SAID
"We kept believing, we thought we could get something from the game but now we’re all disappointed because we’re out. We showed a lot of character and I believe we deserved the win. It was a fantastic second half and hopefully we’ll continue how we played in the second half and we’ll be okay."
Spurs (3-4-2-1): Lloris (c), Dier (Janssen 89), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Walker, Dembele (Winks 75), Wanyama, Davies (Son 57), Eriksen, Dele, Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Sissoko.
Gent (3-4-3): Kalinic, Gigot, Gershon, Mitrovic, Foket, Esiti, Dejaegere (Verstraete 56), Saief, Milicevic (c, Matton 46), Coulibaly, Simon (Perbet 76). Substitutes (not used): Rinne, Kalu, De Smet, Ibrahim.
Goals: Spurs – Eriksen 10, Wanyama 61; Gent – Kane (OG) 20, Perbet 82.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Vertonghen, Walker, Dier, Wanyama, Winks; Gent – Dejaegere, Saief, Kalinic, Verstraete, Coulibaly.
Red card: Spurs - Dele.
Referee: Manuel De Sousa (Portugal).
After a two-week absence, we make a return to Premier League action in three days’ time when we face Stoke City at White Hart Lane. Having finished ninth in the division in the last three seasons, the Potters arrive in N17 in ninth place at the start of the weekend! We beat Mark Hughes’ men 4-0 at the bet365 Stadium in September.