A goal just before the hour mark after sloppy defending by Tottenham was enough to give Gent the advantage going into next week's Europa League round-of-32 return leg at Wembley Stadium.
Mauricio Pochettino had fielded a near full-strength team, hoping to get a reaction after last Saturday's defeat in the Premier League to Liverpool at Anfield, but Spurs started sluggishly and only managed one decent shot on target in the first half. Tottenham improved briefly at the start of the second half and went close to taking the lead when Harry Kane hit the outside of the post. But when Gent got their noses in front, Spurs once again lost their shape and barely threatened to get an equaliser.
The tie is not yet dead. Tottenham have another 90 minutes next week to put it right. If Spurs can raise their game, they still ought to be able to squeeze past a team that's currently mid-table in the Belgium Jupiler League.
For two games in a row now, Tottenham have been unrecognisable from the slick-passing, fast-moving team that pushed itself into Champions League positions. There seems to be a collective lack of confidence throughout the team; it's not just one or two players who've had off days, it's been nearly the entire squad.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- For almost the first time in his career at Tottenham, Pochettino appears to be under the cosh. To field an almost full-strength team against a Gent side that had made five changes and still be outplayed for all but 10 minutes of the match should have been unthinkable. Pochettino's side look a shadow of their former selves -- their energy and first touch have all but disappeared -- and the manager currently does not know why. Fulham must seriously fancy their chances in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Hugo Lloris, 6 -- Made one top save late in the game when he deflected the ball onto the post to avoid even greater embarrassment, but still looks far too ragged in his distribution. Sliced the ball out for a corner on one occasion. It's as if he is losing confidence in the previously rock-solid defence.
DF Kyle Walker, 5 -- Had few attacking opportunities in the first half, but made a greater impression in the second when Moussa Sissoko was switched to the left wing. His defending, though, was poor; time and again he failed to pick up his marker.
DF Toby Alderweireld, 6 -- Is normally the rock at the heart of the back four, but even he is now giving the ball away in dangerous areas. It feels as if he is trying to cover for others' errors by being in two places at once.
DF Eric Dier, 5 -- Missed an important challenge in the build-up to the Gent goal and frequently looked less than secure. Does not appear to be comfortable playing as centre-back alongside Alderweireld. Will be looking forward to the return of Jan Vertonghen as much as his teammates.
DF Ben Davies, 4 -- Had another miserable night at left-back as he, along with Dier, was jointly responsible for the winner by mistiming his tackle. Made a couple of useful headed clearances, but looks to be a player whose confidence is shot and opposing teams have taken full advantage. Unfortunately, he is the one player Pochettino cannot drop while Danny Rose is injured.
MF Victor Wanyama, 6 -- Was steady enough when breaking up Gent attacks, but seldom managed to play a telling ball to kick-start Spurs moving forward.
MF Mousa Dembele, 6 -- Held onto the ball well, but wasn't able to create any clear-cut chances. Shot when he should have passed and passed when he should have shot. Was surprisingly substituted midway through second period.
MF Harry Winks, 6 -- Started strongly and was the only Spurs player with any energy and vision in the first half. Became more anonymous in the second period when Pochettino altered the shape of the team and was eventually taken off.
MF Dele Alli, 4 -- Had another frustrating night, characterised mostly by niggling fouls and a needless booking. Briefly threatened to make an impact early in the second half, but then faded out of the game.
MF Moussa Sissoko, 3 -- It's becoming harder to see why Pochettino plays him. Did little of any value, apart from one cushioned header to set up a half-chance for Alli. Started on the right and was switched to the left before being taken off.
FW Harry Kane, 5 -- Came closer to scoring than in recent games when he clipped the post early in the second half, but was starved of possession for too long and his anxiety on the ball is making his first touch heavy.
MF Son Heung-Min, 5 -- Failed to make much of an impression in a misfiring Spurs team and was caught offside on the one occasion where he had a sniff of goal.
MF Georges-Kevin N'Koudou, 4 -- Was brought on to add some pace to the left flank, but his delivery is too poor to take advantage of the space he creates. Is also all too easily pushed off the ball.
MF Christian Eriksen, N/R -- Was sent on late in search of a Spurs goal and hit two shots high and wide of the target.