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Spurs exit Europe after being held at Wembley by unfancied Belgians

Spurs boss Pochettino says Dele Alli 'knows he made a mistake' for red card tackle

23 February, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Spurs played their Europa League tie at Wembley

Europa League
Round of 32, Second Leg
SPURS 2, GENT 2
(Gent win 3-2 on aggregate)

TOTTENHAM’S hopes of progressing in the Europa League came crashing to a dramatic halt tonight (Thursday) as Belgium team Gent earned a battling 2-2 draw at Wembley.

Mauricio Pochettino’s players faced a huge task to win the match after talismanic forward Dele Alli got a straight red for a terrible tackle in the first half – but Pochettino’s team managed to keep their hopes alive through goals from Christian Eriksen and Victor Wanyama. They lead 2-1 for much of the second half, and came close to scoring a vital third – but their hopes were dashed late on by a decisive Gent second in the final 10 minutes.

After the match, Pochettino defended Alli, calling him a “special player, a special boy with unbelievable personality and character.”  He added: “He knows he made a mistake. He was very disappointed and sad in the dressing room. He will move on and improve.”

Spurs were trailing 1-0 from the first leg but were on top from the off. They created three chances in the opening five minutes and their early pressure told on nine, when Christian Eriksen scampered after a ball on the right, saw space opening up and drove forward in to the penalty area. His shot was angled past goal keeper Lovre Kalinic and evened the tie up.

 Eric Dier tries to work out what went wrong

But when it looked like this could possibly turn into a comfortable home win, with the Belgian opponents looking shaky, things went disastrously wrong. On 19 minutes, Gent got a crucial away goal when Harry Kane turned a corner was turned into his own net.

Spurs battled to regain the lead, knowing they now needed to score two more, but things deteriorated on 39 minutes when Alli lost his cool and lunged dangerously at his marker. It was a certain sending off, a retaliatory assault by the hot headed youngster after he felt he’d been marked out for punishment every time he was on the ball and had no protection from the referee.

But the 10 men were giving a good account of themselves and earned a toe hold back in the game on the hour. A decent move had seen substitute Heung-Min Son cause problems with his trickery in the Gent box and a stabbed effort from Eriksen looked goalbound but Kane somehow got in the way. However, the belief was growing and seconds later, in a patient build up, Victor Wanyama smashed home from the edge of the box.

Spurs kept pressing. Kane was inches away from converting a Kyle Walker cross, Son was creating every time he got the ball and the home team looked more likely to score. But with ten minutes left, a rare Gent counter attack saw Jeremy Perbet bundle home and dump Spurs out of Europe.

SPURS: Lloris, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Davies (Son, 57), Walker, Wanyama, Dier (Janssen, 88), Dembele (Winks, 74), Kane, Eriksen, Alli.
Subs: Vorm, Son, Janssen, Trippier, Sissoko, Wimmer, Winks

Attendance: 80,460 (Match played at Wembley Stadium)

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