FULHAM manager Martin Jol refused to blame striker Andy Johnson after his stoppage-time red card completed a miserable Europa League night in Holland for the Cottagers.
An 89th-minute winner from Marc Janko condemned the west Londoners to a defeat that leaves them needing to win their final group fixture against Odense to guarantee a last 32 place.
To compound the gloom, Fulham lost winger Damien Duff and Mousa Dembele to injury, before Johnson earned a second yellow card for kicking the ball away, meaning he will miss the showdown against the Danes in a fortnight.
“It was probably not what you want, a player sent off in the final minutes out of frustration. It was a second booking, and he knew that he was booked. You need all your players, especially Andy Johnson, who has scored goals in Europe,” admitted Jol, but he added: “He did a very good job for the team. There is no complaint whatsoever with his attitude.”
Jol, already deprived of several midfielders and attacking players due to injury, revealed Duff had suffered a recurrence of a calf complaint and is likely to miss Monday’s Premier League visit of Liverpool. Dembele is, however, expected to recover to face the Reds, the Dutchman added.
Dembele’s injury contributed to Twente’s late winner, which came when the dangerous Emir Bajrami crossed from the right for towering Austria forward Janko to tap his 17th goal of the season past Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Fulham arrived knowing that three points would send them through, but offered little threat until after the break, when Johnson squandered a chance to give them an undeserved lead. Bobby Zamora’s challenge for a loose ball caused a ricochet to fall kindly to Johnson, only for him to screw it several yards wide.
By then Twente were looking ominous, Bajrami flashing a dipping effort close to Scwharzer’s post and then Luuk de Jong nodding Ola John’s left-wing cross wide from an inviting position.
Still Zamora could have pilfered victory for the visitors, had he diverted Danny Murphy’s free-kick on target, but Janko would have the final word before Johnson invited suspension.
BY FRANK DALLERES
Andy Johnson was presented with a gleaming opportunity to put Fulham in front after 65 minutes, when the ball broke to him eight yards out at a slight angle, but the former England striker could not adjust his feet quickly enough and dragged his shot well wide. It only got worse for Johnson, who was sent off in stoppage time.
It was a difficult match because Fulham got back to their own game in the second half. Twente had to be patient and maintain the tempo, but we didn't make the mistake of playing long balls and deserved the win with the late goal.
FC Twente boss Co Adriaanse on his team’s first win over English opposition in 13 attempts
While most teams have played around 20 games this season, last night was the 27th of an already gruelling campaign for Fulham. With one of the oldest squads in the top flight, Martin Jol’s enthusiasm for a prolonged European adventure must be increasingly tempered by concerns that a repeat of the 2009-10 run to the final could burn them out long before their rivals. And while they remain only three points above the relegation zone, they cannot afford to let their performance dip.