Fulham returned to winning ways in Denmark as Andrew Johnson’s two goals completed a hard-fought European win.
The Whites opened their second game in Group K in positive fashion and Clint Dempsey almost put his side in front when he collected a stray Odense pass and raced at goal – unfortunately his dipping strike fell wide.
Pajtim Kasami then forced a good save from Stefan Wessels, and moments later the German stopper was in action again, saving well from Dempsey’s volley on the turn.
Odense hit back however, and suddenly it was the home side that were enjoying the majority of the ball, with former Manchester United and Aston Villa midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba firing wide from distance.
As Odense gradually began to set the tempo, Mark Schwarzer made a stunning one-handed save to keep out Djiby Fall with the goal seemingly at the Senegal international’s mercy.
Fall, who looked a real handful throughout, went close again on 20 minutes, but his volley arrowed narrowly wide before moving Schwarzer into another stop with a well-struck free-kick.
Soaking up the pressure, Fulham began to put together a reply, Andrew Johnson making a number of clever runs into the hosts’ box and Kasami and Damien Duff showing flashes of skill down either flank.
One deep delivery from Kasami found Dempsey waiting at the back post, but the American forward’s downward header was expertly cleared from the line by Djemba-Djemba.
Dempsey then fired over following Matthew Briggs’ powerful run and teasing cut back, before seeing another effort well blocked by Tore Reginiussen.
With the half entering the final 10 minutes, their positivity was rewarded. Johnson collected another inviting pass in the left channel, cut inside Odense captain Anders Moller Christensen, and rifled home from the edge of the box. It was a customarily cool finish from the little striker and nothing less than he deserved.
Fulham started the second-half brightly with Danny Murphy and Pajtim Kasami combining on the right of the Odense box and the Swiss midfielder flashing a strike across goal.
However, the Whites were given a scare shortly after when Schwarzer could only parry Kalilou Traore’s stinging strike and Bashkim Kadrii almost pounced on the rebound.
Hans Andreasen shot wide for the home side, and Fall almost capitalised on a moment of hesitancy.
Much like the first-half, the second period ebbed and flowed too, and as Fulham wrestled control in their favour, Duff was unfortunate not to put the finishing touch on a lovely slalom run from deep.
As the half wore on both sides grew a little tentative in their approach, knowing that a second goal could well decide the outcome.
But it was Odense that had to go in search of a breakthrough and so they did, with one ambitious break forward needing Stephen Kelly to come to the rescue with a fantastic block to deny Andreas Johansson a shot at goal.
Schwarzer then saved smartly from Peter Utaka’s skidding effort on 82 minutes as the home side threatened further.
A second goal did come though and it was from the boot of the impressive Johnson who took Philippe Senderos’ high clearance in his stride and curled in with devastating accuracy on 87 minutes.
Odense’s misfortune was compounded further minutes later when Kalilou Traore was sent off for his second bookable offence, although the young midfielder arguably should have gone sooner following a two-footed lunge on Briggs.
This was just the second defeat in 16 European home games for the Danish club and the Whites’ first win since August – ending a run of five consecutive draws.
They had to be patient at times, but this was a deserved victory for Martin Jol’s side and one that will hopefully carry them forward.