OPPONENTS Gent (Belgium) 
COMPETITION Europa League   Round of 32  First leg
DATE Thursday 16th February 2017
VENUE Ghelamco Arena
PREVIEW Gent lost to a side in the bottom two of the Belgian top flight at the weekend, in a league where our opponents sit mid-table.

Apart from winger Moses Simon, who Spurs have watched for a few years and William Troost Ekong (who won't be playing in this tie as he is not in the club's Europa League squad), who was with Spurs as a youngster, the rest of the squad is a mix of nationalities and names that are far from household.  Even UEFA struggle, as their website does not have photos of all their players !!

But the Buffalos, as they are nicknamed, could be well drilled and they are better at home than away.  Spurs failed to get past Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco, but put up good (albeit not great) performances in against them and I am guessing they are better teams than Gent, who lost 0-5 to Shakthar Donetsk.

It is difficult to predict a score when you don't know much about the opposition and you don't know what side Pochettino will put out, so going on past form this season, I take Spurs to win their first European match in Belgium with a narrow victory.

PREDICTION Gent    1        Tottenham Hotspur    2
- (-), - (-), - (-) and  - (-),  while - (-) and - (-) are doubts. 
Spurs will be without Erik Lamela (hip), Jan Vertonghen (ankle) and Danny Rose (knee).

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Gent  1 (0)  

Europa League  Round of 32 -  First Leg
Thursday 16th February 2017
Ghelamco Arena
Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)

Kick off 18:00
Perbet  58m 20s None


Walker  (foul on Saief)  54
Dele  (dissent)  73


Crowd :   , Weather :  Mild
Referee :  Benoit Bastien (France) Assistant Referees :  Hicham Zakrani; Frederic Haquette (France)
Fourth Official :  Julien Pacelli (France) Additional Assistant Referees :  Benoit Millot; Jerome Miguelgorry (France)
Spurs  kicked off the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 4 minutes.
Gent : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
91  Lovre KALINIC

  4  Samuel GIGOT
13  Stefan MITROVIC
  Nana ASARE  (c)  (55  Rami GERSHON  80)
32  Thomas FOKET

19  Brecht DEJAEGERE
44  Anderson ESITI
  Kenny SAIEF
27  Moses SIMON  (18  Samuel KALU  74)

77  Daniejl MILICEVIC

24  Jeremy PERBET    (  7  Kalifa COULIBALY  75)

Unused subs: 
  1  Jacob RINNE
10  Cardoso NETO
29  Thibault de SMET

    1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  2  Kyle WALKER
33  Ben DAVIES

12  Victor WANYAMA
19  Mousa DEMBELE  (  7  Heung-Min SON  68)

17  Moussa SISSOKO  (14  Georges-Kevin N'KOUDOU  72)
20  DELE Alli
  Harry WINKS
  (23  Christian ERIKSEN  80)

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM

16  Kieran TRIPPIER
27  Kevin WIMMER
25  Josh ONOMAH

Manager :  Hein Vanhaezbrouck Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Hudson Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Jartazi Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

With a strong side out to try and make the second leg an easier task, Tottenham failed to overcome an energetic Gent side, who were determined to put in a good display and came out of the game with a 1-0 win, as the Spurs players looked disjointed and dispirited.  Pochettino will be furious with the team, who looked like they had forgotten all the things that they had done so well in the run into the last few weeks and it looks like the wheels are falling off our season.

Spurs were content to hold their ground early on, while Gent pressed and played the ball early, identifying the Tottenham left as a route to the penalty area. Having watched Liverpool use that tactic, with Davies not given protection, they pulled the Spurs defence into the middle and then spread it wide. Unfortunately for them, the final ball was lacking. Milocevic's air shot was as close as they came. It gave Spurs the opportunity to hit on the break, allowing Dele to shoot from 20 yards and the ball flew just wide, before Kane came in from the left to strike a shot that the keeper had to get his hands behind.

Harry Winks was busy pushing passes around to get Spurs moving and Dele shot over after Sissoko headed down for him just inside the box and then he had an effort blocked when Sissoko pulled the ball back to him after a good move.

Dembele and Alli were usually stood on by two men when they received the ball and Spurs were not playing with the tempo they needed to pull Gent around and make space for players to get in on goal. Some of which was not helped by the erratic application of the laws by the French referee, who let things go for Gent and pulled them up when Spurs were considered to have offended. Two minutes before the break, Dembele found some space and drove a low shot right down the middle, but the keeper was right behind it.

Spurs started the second half more brightly, with a smart ball by Winks seeing Walker come in to beat the full back to the ball and his pass to Alli saw the midfielder upended on the edge of the box. Play went on, as the ball fell to Kane, whose shot from around the penalty spot hit the outside of the keeper's left hand post. Then Walker had to leave the ball as he was offside, but Winks salvaged it before it crossed the dead ball line and Dembele's shot was untidily dealt with by the goalie. The keeper also made a mess of a cross and Dembele was lined up by Kane, but a challenge on him as he shaped to shoot put him off.

Milicevic then sliced a shot well wide when he was well placed and the referee was persuaded to book Walker as he slid in, but won the ball. I thought asking a player to get booked was a bookable offence. Once more, an interesting interpretation. Walker did better when he pulled the ball back to Dele, who avoided three tackles before running the ball out. Just before the hour, Gent took the lead, with a move down the left that saw a ball pulled back into the middle of the box by Milicevic, where Perbet took two goes to put the ball in, just avoiding touching the offside Simon, as he ran in. Davies missed a tackle on Perbet and there was a lack of people picking up runners, which allowed the home side the opportunity.

Walker was taken late by Saief, but did not produce a yellow card in a strange reading of the laws, when he had booked Walker for a similar tackle. Then Kane was hauled down allowing Dier a free-kick, but he bent a weak shot wide. Ben Davies got just a slight touch on a cross with his head to take it away from Milicevic coming in behind him.

With the game going against Spurs, Son and Nkoudou were introduced for the disappointing Dembele and Sissoko but it was Gent who went closest with a corner routine to the far post where Mitrovic headed back across goal, but narrowly over the top. When Kane was bundled over on the edge of the box, a light push by Son produced a free-kick and a booking for Dele, who expressed his lack of understanding of the referee's decision making.

Tottenham's defence was ragged and Milicevic should have doubled the home side's lead, but Hugo dived left to get a big hand on the ball and push it onto the post. Spurs were giving too much space for Gent to play in and they were taking advantage of that. The home players were showboating and Toby had the ball ripped off him, but every time a Spurs player was barged off the ball, there was nothing given.

Sub Christian Eriksen moved forward with the ball, but his final shot was poor, not even testing the goalie as it flew to high. Even near the end, when a Gent defender Gigot went down inside his own box having taken a knock, the referee stopped the game to allow him attention, when Tottenham had the ball, thus preventing a move building. At the end, Spurs were reduced to knocking balls forward without picking out a white shirt and when they worked the ball well, Eriksen skied a left foot shot, once more not troubling the keeper.

There was too little urgency in defence by Spurs, who allowed Gent to play around them and with little movement off the ball, when Tottenham had possession, they could not work the ball into good positions. Some of it was Spurs being too weak, while some was the officials giving the Belgians the run of the ball.  Losing the first leg, as we have done yet again, leaves us a  lot of hard work to do in the second leg, which was not the idea of playing this side in this tie.

So, it was another shocking performance in Europe. While it was hilarious that Bayern smashed Arsenal the previous night, look at how we perform against Gent. Making any sort of progress in Europe is a long way off and winning qualification for the Champions League will mean nothing unless there is a massive realisation of how to play on the continent.

Sparky Marky




Gent were formed by Englishmen who played football matches in the town wearing bowler hats.  Known originally as the English Gents, it was later shortened to Gent to match the town name.


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