Same old Dele Alli, same old Tottenham. He seems incapable of engaging his brain in certain moments of intensity and they seem incapable of making significant progress in Europe.
Once again, Spurs go out early, falling in the last 32 and making it a fourth straight season in which they have failed to reach the quarter-finals of Europe’s second competition.
For a club that wants a place among the world’s elite, that simply isn’t very good; for manager Mauricio Pochettino, it must be a cause of increasing irritation, given the clock is ticking ever louder on when he will win his first trophy. Now, in reality, it is FA Cup or bust for Tottenham.
Christian Eriksen fires Spurs ahead after just 10 minutes, coolly slotting home after a mistake from the Gent defence
Harry Kane rose highest to head a defensive corner, but his flick went past Hugo Lloris and into his own net
Dele Alli launches himself into a knee-high, studs up tackle which saw him dismissed five minutes before half time
Alli looks to the heavens after being shown the red card, but he could have no complaints over the dismissal
Victor Wanyama puts Tottenham back ahead with a powerful shot from the edge of the box after interplay with Kye Walker
Jeremy Perbet celebrates after winning the tie for Gent with a second away goal, to ensure the Belgians would progress
Tottenham (3-4-2-1): Lloris 6; Dier 5 (Janssen 89), Alderweireld 6, Vertonghen 6; Walker 7.5, Wanyama 7.5, Dembele 6.5 (Winks 75 6), Davies 6 (Heung-min 58 7); Eriksen 8, Alli 4; Kane 5.5.
Subs not used: Vorm, Trippier, Sissoko, Wimmer
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino 5.5
Booked: Vertonghen, Walker, Dier, Winks, Wanyama
Sent off: Alli
Goals: Eriksen 10, Wanyama 61
Gent (4-2-3-1): Kalinic 7; Mitrovic 6, Gershon 7, Dejaegere 7 (Verstraete 55 6), Gigot 6; Foket 6, Saief 6; Simon 6 (Perbet 75 7), Esiti 6, Milicevic 6 (Matton 46 6); Coulibaly 6.
Subs not used: Rinne, Kalu, Perbet, De Smet, Ibrahim.
Manager: Hein Vanhaezebrouck 7.5
Booked: Saief, Dejaegere, Kalinic, Coulibaly, Verstraete
Goal: Kane og 20, Perbet 81
Referee: Manuel de Sousa (Portugal)
But what a different tale this might well have been if Alli was not so impulsive, not so prone to the flashes of idiocy that pushed the shin of an opponent close to breaking point at the end of the first half.
It was a disgraceful tackle, well worthy of the red card and perhaps made worse by the fact it was in retaliation to some rough treatment he received in a robust challenge a moment earlier.
Clearly, Alli has issues getting his temper under control, no matter how good he is as a player and irrespective of tired arguments that curbing his aggression will lesson those gifts.
It will be pointed out that this was his first red card, but it was not the first time he has lashed out. Not even the second, third or fourth.
It was an accident waiting to happen and this time it robbed his own club, given how they dominated the match before and after Christian Eriksen pulled them level on aggregate in the 10th minute.
At that point they looked set to get it done. But first they were pulled back by a Harry Kane own goal, meaning they needed two more, and then they were floored by Alli’s lunge.
Victor Wanyama put them ahead again in the second half but, in the scramble for the vital third, Jeremy Perbet scored for Gent, just as he had in the first leg.
So, a wasted opportunity in a competition that Pochettino clearly wanted to embrace.
He had approached the game by calling it a ‘final’ and backed this up by fielding his strongest available line-up.
Eriksen and defender Jan Vertonghen came into the side having missed the first-leg defeat and Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks dropped out, with Kyle Walker and Ben Davies stationed as wing backs either side of a three-man defence.
Bold, ambitious and entirely necessary after the debacle of the initial performance a week ago. Pochettino claimed it took him only 50 seconds in Belgium to see his side lacked the focus and sharpness to win that leg.
Here, it was a white blitz for the first 19 minutes. Walker was central to much of what was good and then carried the sole burden in those moments when good became bad.
Mousa Dembele keeps the ball away from Gent’s Kenny Saief, while grabbing hold of a chunk of his opponent’s shirt
Dele Alli breaks away from Anderson Esiti as Tottenham looked to assert themselves early on at Wembley
Things were looking good for Spurs when Eriksen slid the ball past Lovre Kalinic in the 10th minute to put them ahead
Eriksen celebrates after his goal which drew Tottenham level on aggregate early on in the second leg of their tie
The Spurs players look dejected after conceding an away goal which tilted the tie back in the Belgian side’s favour
Stefan Mitrovic celebrates after Kane had headed into his own net for the equaliser, putting Gent back in front on aggregate
His pace is one thing, but his desire to beat a man is quite another for a player who is typically used as a right back but seems to be thriving with a more attacking brief. It is no great surprise that he has crept on to Barcelona’s radar.
He had already created three chances before Eriksen made the breakthrough. The goal came from a long ball, delivered by Eric Dier and misjudged in flight by Kenneth Saief.
It dropped for Eriksen, who outran Rami Gershon and threaded his shot between Lovre Kalinic’s legs. A brilliant finish.
It took 19 minutes for Gent to work a chance of any description, with Danijel Milicevic getting close enough to goal to necessitate a mildly desperate tackle from Toby Alderweireld. In isolation it was a harmless enough situation, except Alderweireld’s challenge conceded the corner that caused the goal.
The delivery was decent, but how infuriating for Pochettino to see Milicevic given so much freedom to head the delivery back across goal and into the position from which Kane scored his own goal.
It was actually his fourth since the 2013-14 season — prolific at both ends.
Eriksen and Dembele look distraught as they prepared to kick off, knowing Tottenham now needed two goals to progress
Jan Vertonghen powers into the Gent box, but was unable to pick out a pass to a team-mate when well placed
Ali is shown a straight red card, making Tottenham’s task even more difficult with more than 50 minutes left to play
Eriksen breaks away from Esiti as Spurs pushed forward in the second half knowing they need goals to stay alive
Kane tries a shot from just outside the box, but the England striker can’t find a way through on this occasion
That left Spurs needing two but still, it was the kind of performance that might yield them.
Walker created numerous chances and Ben Davies chipped in with one on the other flank, sending a ball skidding across the six-yard box and only marginally out of Kane’s reach.
It was all rather promising and then suddenly it wasn’t — the legacy of Alli’s stupidity.
He had taken a hard tackle immediately beforehand but that was no justification for the lunge that appeared to bend Brecht Dejaegere’s shin. The bone so easily could have snapped.
Eriksen managed to get in behind the Gent defence but was denied by a good stop from keeper Kalinic
Kane fired wide when well-placed, as Spurs piled on the pressure in the second half despite being a man down
It was a difficult night for Kane, who scored an own goal and missed several good chances to get Spurs back in the game
Alli disappeared down the tunnel, ignored by his manager, and took what appeared to be Tottenham’s hopes of staying alive with him.
Still they pushed, though. Kane missed a pair of chances before Wanyama had his moment, surging on to a loose ball near the edge of Kalinic’s area and lashing past Gent’s keeper on the hour. Pochettino leapt into the air as it went in. Game on.
Spurs pushed but could not do what was needed. In the rush at one end, they conceded to Perbet at the other. It might all have been very different. A penny for Alli’s thoughts, if there were any.
The Kenyan midfielder bellows with delight after putting Tottenham back ahead on the night at Wembley
Dembele congratulates Wanyama after he put Spurs back in the tie, as Tottenham dominated with only 10 men
Mauricio Pochettino fires the ball back into play as he looks to help Tottenham keep the game going quickly
The Gent players were overjoyed after winning the tie late on when Perbet fired home to grab a second away goal