FC Twente 1 Fulham 0
Marc Janko’s 89th-minute goal left Fulham needing to win their final Group K match to be sure of a place in the knockout phase of the Europa League.
And striker Andrew Johnson will miss that game – at home to Danish outfit Odense – after being sent off in injury time in Enschede.
Fulham were on course for an important point before Roberto Rosales whipped the ball in from the right for substitute Janko to score from six yards out.
The visitors were then dealt another blow when Johnson, who had already been booked, petulantly kicked the ball away after being penalised for a foul on Ola John and was shown a second yellow card.
The Whites’ late lapse means FC Twente win the group – and that Fulham will go out if they fail to beat Odense and Wisla Krakov manage an upset against the Dutch side in a fortnight.
A point in the Netherlands would have left Fulham needing only a draw at Craven Cottage to go through.
Fulham’s line-up seemed full of attacking intent, with Johnson, Bobby Zamora and Moussa Dembele all starting.
But they spent most of the game defending, with Zamora man-marked up front and both Johnson and Demeble working hard on the flanks.
Twente, already through to the next stage, have scored 63 goals in all competitions this season but were mainly restricted to long-range efforts by Martin Jol’s men.
The dangerous Nacer Chandli was twice denied by Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who also did well to keep out Leroy Fer’s shot.
Fulham were forced into a change 10 minutes before the interval, when Damien Duff went off after suffering an apparent recurrence of the calf injury that kept him out of Saturday’s draw at Arsenal.
The Irishman was replaced by exciting youngster Kerim Frei, who created an opening shortly after the hour mark.
Frei galloped towards the penalty area and picked out Dembele, who went down under a challenge from Wout Brama which referee Marijo Stahonja deemed fair.
Johnson then missed Fulham’s best chance of the match, dragging a shot wide after Stephen Kelly’s pass had ricocheted into his path.
Luuk de Jong was even more wasteful at the other end after being set up by John.
The younger brother of former Fulham player Collins John cut in from the left and crossed for the unmarked striker, who headed wide.
That miss was almost punished when Zamora nudged the ball narrowly wide after Danny Murphy’s cleverly-taken free-kick.
Having defended so well, Fulham switched off and Twente were able to nick a winner.
Emir Bajrami was given time to find Rosales, and Kelly allowed Janko to creep in front of him and meet the Venezuelan’s low cross with a simple finish.
Johnson’s subsequent moment of madness may yet prove costly, but Fulham remain very strong favourites to progress.