Gent vs Tottenham - as it happened: Spurs shocked by Gent in Europa League defeat

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The Independent Football

After Tottenham's first Champions League campaign since 2011 came to an ignominious end in Monaco last November, Spurs now have the chance to redeem themselves.

It may not offer the same prestige or glory as Europe's top-flight competition, but the Europa League still offers Mauricio Pochettino's men the opportunity to broaden their exposure to and experience in continental football.

Indeed, Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris has urged his side to take tonight's fixture against Gent seriously. “In our mind it has to be like the Champions League,” he said. “It is still a good competition to win and we are all ambitious. We want to go as far as possible."

Both teams come into the game off the back of a defeat, with Spurs having lost 2-0 at Liverpool last Saturday, on the same day that Gent were beaten 1-0 at home by Eupen.

However, while Pochettino's side remain in Champions League contention in third place in the Premier League, Gent are down in eighth in the Belgian top flight. 

Tottenham head into the tonight's last-32 first-leg as favourites but don't expect an easy ride.

Follow the live action below...

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Gent: Kalinic, Gigot, Mitrovic, Saief, Dejaegere, Asare, Perbet, Simon, Foket, Esiti, Milicevic
Subs: Rinne, Coulibaly, Neto, Kalu, De Smet, Verstraete, Gershon
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Winks, Sissoko, Dele, Kane
Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Eriksen, Onomah, Nkoudou, Son
Good evening and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the Europa League Round of 32 first leg between KAA Gent and Tottenham Hotspur.
Follow all the action live with the match kicking off at 18:00 GMT.

It's a strong Spurs line-up...

Mauricio Pochettino has named a near-first choice starting XI tonight as Spurs look to avenge that disappointing defeat against Liverpool last weekend.
The Argentinian, who has been linked with the Barcelona job since their 4-0 defeat in Paris on Tuesday, explained before the game that some of his biggest players had pushed for a starting place tonight to get the Anfield loss out of their system.
"What happened against Liverpool, all the players want the chance to play again and try and change the feeling," Pochettino said. “Maybe we will make some changes, but not too many.”
And it looks like he's stuck to his word. First-team regulars Harry Kane, Dele Alli and captain Hugo Lloris all start in what looks like a very strong Spurs team.
Gent boss Hein Vanhaezebrouck, on the other hand, has picked a bit of a second-string side as he tries to move his team up the domestic league table. This could be a bit of a one-sided encounter...

How the bookies see it...

Gent 7/2, Draw 13/5, Tottenham 5/6
The visitors come into this one as favourites against a side who currently sit in eighth in the Belgian Jupiler League. Spurs are second favourites to win the Europa League at 8/1, narrowly pipped by Premier League rivals Manchester United who are 4/1.

Danger man

Kalifa Coulibaly is the in-form man for Gent tonight. The Mali international has scored eight goals in nine appearances in the Europa League this season, including in each of his last three games. 
Our man in Belgium is enjoying the pre-match entertainment...
Who will win tonight's match?
The teams are in the tunnel...
1 minute: and we're under way
Spurs are in their traditional lilywhite kit tonight, while the hosts are in a rather lurid yellow number
2 minutes: half-chance for Gent
An early attack from Gent down the Spurs left comes to nothing. Simon centres to Milicevic but the front man can't make a solid connection with his right-footed shot.
5 minutes: free-kick for Spurs
The visitors get an early free-kick after Esiti's late challenge on Sissoko. Nothing comes of it
7 minutes
It's been a fairly even start here in Belgium. There are a few empty seats owing to traffic problems outside the groun, but the Gent fans are in good voice. There's been little in the way of goalmouth action though.
9 minutes: free-kick to Gent
It's 40 yards out, but Mitrovic is lining up a shot... straight into the Spurs wall.
11 minutes: chance!
Dele Alli fires one narrowly wide from 25 yards after a lovely bit of build-up play from Harry Winks and Ben Davies. Gent boss Hein Vanhaezebrouck puffs his cheeks. That was close.
What is Tottenham's best chance of silverware this season?
16 minutes
Both teams have started with good intensity this evening. Spurs have had the best chance of the game but Gent are by no means looking like pushovers. They're knocking it around well and putting Spurs under lots of pressure when they lose the ball.
19 minutes: corner for Gent
20 minutes: chance for Gent!
It looks like about four Gent players are offside but the linesman's flag stays down. Perbet controls with his chest and swings with his right foot... but he slices well wide of Lloris' goal.
22 minutes
It's not been a great start for Spurs here who are not keeping hold of the ball like they usually do. Anfield hangover for the visitors?

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Thursday's Europa League last-32 fixtures:

United 20:05 Saint-Étienne

FK Krasnodar 16:00 Fenerbahçe

Olympiakos 18:00 Osmanlispor

AZ Alkmaar 18:00 Lyon

B Gladbach 18:00 Fiorentina

Celta Vigo 18:00 Shakt Donsk

FC Rostov 18:00 Sparta Prague

Ludo Razgd 18:00 FC Copenhagen

Astra Giurgiu 18:00 KRC Genk

Ath Bilbao 20:05 Apoel Nic