Fulham midfielder Claus Jensen protested his innocence as Fulham tried to save him from a ban following his red card just 11 minutes into Saturday’s Reebok reunion.
The former Wanderers favourite – universally regarded as one of football’s genuine nice guys – was sent off after blocking Bruno N’Gotty’s header on the line.
There was sympathy all round for the Denmark international, who received a standing ovation from the Reebok crowd as he left the field, but referee Dermot Gallagher appeared to have no option but to dismiss him.
Yet video evidence supported Fulham assistant manager Steve Kean’s claim that, although the ball hit Jensen’s arm, N’Gotty had clearly fouled Brian McBride to win his goalbound header. Jay Jay Okocha converted the spot kick ssto put Wanderers on their way to a 3-1 win that breathed new life into their Champions League ambitions.
A crestfallen Jensen admitted handling the ball but denied it was intentional.
“I thought it was harsh and having seen it again after the match I still think it was harsh,” he said.
“I’m not saying it didn’t hit my arm, I knew that straight away, but it wasn’t deliberate. It wasn’t a blatant dive to get the ball with my arm.
“You have to accept that there are rules the referee has to go by, but what I am concerned about is whether it was deliberate handball or not.
“My thought was that I could get there with my chest.
“It’s an instinctive thing as well. It happens within one second. I thought I could get there with my chest but the ball skipped up and hit my arm.
“It’s a shame it started like that because we had a very good week after the win on Sunday at Portsmouth and felt confident we could get up here and get a result. But to be down to 10 men after just 10 or 15 minutes and losing a goal as well made it so hard.”