London (AFP) – Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has apologised to his team-mates and Gent midfielder Brecht Dejaegere after being sent off for a horror tackle in the Premier League club’s shock Europa League exit.
Alli saw red for a studs-up lunge on Dejaegere in the 39th minute at Wembley on Thursday and Tottenham were unable to recover.
Christian Eriksen’s opener and an own-goal from Harry Kane meant the score was 1-1 when Alli was given his marching orders by referee Manuel De Sousa.
Victor Wanyama’s second-half strike gave Tottenham hope but Jeremy Perbet’s late goal on the break gave Gent a 2-2 draw and 3-2 win on aggregate in the last 32 tie.
Alli’s challenge was high and dangerous, spearing his studs just below Dejaegere’s knee, but the Belgian revealed the England international had said sorry.
“Dele Alli just said sorry to me and that’s nice from him, he’s a professional,” Dejaegere said.
“We’re okay, it’s football. I saw the images and it could have been much worse. I don’t think he meant it because he came to apologise himself.”
Dejaegere was able to continue initially but had to be substituted in the 56th minute when the pain in his knee became more acute.
“I felt it was a really hard tackle but then in the moment, you turn the button and try to focus on the game,” Dejaegere said.
“At half-time I felt pain in my knee and also someone showed me the image and then my heart was thumping for a few seconds.”
Alli’s challenge appeared an expression of anger after he had been denied a free-kick moments before.
But Toby Alderweireld said the 20-year-old had apologised to his Tottenham colleagues.
“Of course he said sorry. He didn’t mean to get sent off,” Alderweireld said.
“Two seconds before someone made a foul on him and he reacted to that but he did not want to get a red card. He is young and I know for 100 per cent he didn’t mean (to do it).”