A strong Tottenham Hotspur side slipped to a 1-0 defeat away to KAA Gent in the first leg of their Europa League last 32 clash on Thursday, with Jeremy Perbet's 59th minute goal making the difference.
Spurs dominated the ball throughout the game but struggled to put many good chances together, with their best spell of the game coming in the minutes preceding Perbet's strike. The Lilywhites now face an uphill struggle to turn things around back at Wembley Stadium.
Pochettino goes strong, but it doesn't pay off
It did look like the evening could be fairly simple when the team sheet came out, with Mauricio Pochettino selecting a nearly full strength team, whilst Gent rested a number of key players.
However, a drab start to the game that was devoid of chances early on indicated that it could be a long night for Tottenham, unless they claimed a first half goal that just wouldn't come.
Dele Alli hit one wide from range, whilst at the other end Stefan Mitrovic nearly tested Hugo Lloris from 10 yards out, but the affair failed to spark into life until the second half.
Mousa Dembele edged further up the pitch as events progressed, looking to use his pace and power to act as a catalyst for things, often met by a flurry of Gent bodies.
The Belgian, playing in his home country, did manage to get a shot away in the dying minutes of the half, albeit whilst Harry Kane was arguably in a better position to be passed to. 'Keeper Lovre Kalinic spilled Dembele's shot at the first attempt, but was on hand to scoop up the ball before any danger came about.
Kane goes close, hits the post
Pochettino recognised that his formula wasn't working, and switched things up to a three-man-defence at the interval, leading to a much improved Spurs showing in the opening minutes of the second half.
Kane, who had struggled for involvement in the first half, saw the ball break for him after some movement from Alli on the edge of the penalty area, only for the striker's shot to hit the outside of the post.
Moments later, getting the ball with his back to goal in the area, an opportunity presented itself for Kane to set up Dembele with a short pass, one that the England international failed to execute, allowing Gent to break.
Perbet shocks North Londoners
It wasn't with that counter-attack, but one a few minutes after, from which the home side scored, undoing Tottenham's good work in the period prior. Danijel Milisevic set up Perbet in the area, the French striker having his initial effort blocked by Ben Davies at first, before keeping his cool to slot into the corner at the second attempt.
The travelling away fans may have thought that at least conceding would wake Spurs from their slumber, despite that improved start to the second half, but it did completely the opposite.
Devoid of ideas and growing in petulance, Lloris bailed his side out again with 15 minutes to go, Gent hitting the post this time as Milisevic nearly went from provider to scorer, forcing the away 'keeper to tip his goal-bound effort onto the post thanks to some lightning reflexes.
Speaking of growing in petulance, Dele Alli is always a name that comes to mind regarding such matters, as he added another yellow card for dissent to a growing tally in his young career.
However, it was Alli who almost helped his side find an equaliser in the final few minutes, with a smart flick of the ball over the diving legs of two defenders and into the path of Heung-Min Son, only for the Korean to be tackled as he swung his leg back to shoot. The offside flag did eventually go up, meaning that any finish by Son would have been chalked off.
That was Tottenham's last meaningful attack as they failed to muster anything special up in four minutes of stoppage time, substitute Christian Eriksen lashing over a frustrating effort from an unlikely distance.