LONDON • Dele Alli is a wonderful talent but a moment of madness and malevolence cost Tottenham Hotspur dear at Wembley.
In front of 80,465 fans, a Europa League record, the England international was dismissed for a shocking tackle that could have broken Brecht Dejaegere's leg and ended up breaking Spurs' own hearts.
As well as Mauricio Pochettino's ten hungry men performed, they tired and fell out of Europe after a drawing 2-2 with Gent and losing 2-3 on aggregate.
Tottenham were left to reflect on what might have happened had Alli stayed on. They had started well, seizing the lead after 10 minutes when Christian Eriksen shot calmly under Lovre Kalinic.
The noise from the Spurs faithful briefly ebbed in the 20th minute because of an own goal from Harry Kane.
But then came the turning point, four minutes from the break. Although this was only the first red of Alli's career, discipline remains an issue.
The England midfielder showed his short fuse when he leapt two-footed into a knee-high challenge against Dejaegere to draw a red card.
The Belgian was fortunate his foot was not firmly planted as his leg could have snapped under the shuddering impact.
"He's very disappointed," Tottenham manager Pochettino said.
"He knows he made a mistake. It was a sending off. Now it's time to give support because he's very sad in the changing room."
Even though depleted in numbers, Spurs were not short of spirit. They reclaimed the lead on the hour through a cracker from Victor Wanyama before Jeremy Perbet equalised for Gent eight minutes from time.
"I am very disappointed," added Pochettino.
"We started well and scored. The tie was open but we conceded a goal in one action in the first half. After that it was complicated."
THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE