Tottenham’s Europa League hopes have been dealt a blow after Jeremy Perbet’s goal gave Gent a surprise victory in their last-32 first-leg meeting.
French striker Perbet controlled and slotted into the corner from Danijel Milicevic’s pull-back on the hour.
A strong Spurs line-up were poor for most of the evening, although Harry Kane clipped the post after half-time.
Gent, eighth in the Belgian league, almost added a second as Milicevic’s shot was tipped on to the post.
The second leg is at Wembley on Thursday, 23 February.
Spurs stutter to surprise defeat
Gent’s 20,000-capacity stadium, the Ghelamco Arena, is host to a Michelin-starred restaurant, but there was little to feast on for Tottenham, who turned in a strangely listless performance.
Mauricio Pochettino had spoken before the match about how keen his players were to put behind them a poor display in losing 2-0 at Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday.
With that in mind, Pochettino selected a very strong side – with only two changes to the team beaten at Anfield.
Dele Alli skimmed an early shot wide from just outside the penalty area after good build-up involving Harry Winks and Ben Davies, but that was as good as it got in the opening half.
Pochettino’s decision to move midfielder Moussa Sissoko out to the left at half-time led to a lively spell from the visitors, during which Kane clipped the post.
But Sissoko looked increasingly lost, and the Tottenham head coach was prompted into more tactical tweaks in an attempt to find an equaliser.
Nothing worked – and Tottenham’s frustration was summed up as Alli picked up a needless yellow card for dissent.