Jermaine Jenas claims Tottenham's chances of making the Champions League semi-final have been severely hampered by the "rash" decision of the "inexperienced" referee who sent Peter Crouch off last night.
Spurs' hopes of making the last four look all but over after they took a 4-0 beating from Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the first leg of their quarter-final clash.
Harry Redknapp's side were not helped in the slightest by Crouch, who felled Sergio Ramos and Marcelo deep inside the Real half to earn two yellow cards and leave his team-mates to battle on without him for 75 minutes.
Thirty five-year-old referee Felix Brych, taking charge of his 12th Champions League match, was the man who gave Crouch his marching orders.
He, Jenas insists, should have exercised leniency given that both of the striker's fouls came deep in enemy territory at such an early stage in the match.
"I think the referee was a little bit rash," Jenas said.
"Maybe it was inexperience on his part more than anything.
"At some point you have a word, you just talk to the player, rather than dishing out cards every two minutes."
Crouch apologised for the red card last night, but that will be of little comfort to Redknapp and his team-mates, who were torn apart by a brace from Emmanuel Adebayor and strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria.
Jenas says he holds no grudges against the 30-year-old striker for the sending off though.
"He was disappointed, as any professional would be. He knew what he did probably wasn't a sensible decision, but everybody was so fired up for the game and these things can happen," Jenas said.
"As soon as it happened my heart sank. We were up against Real Madrid with 10 men for 75 minutes. We stood up to them for a bit but it wasn't enough."
After hearing that he would be on the bench for the match, Jenas was drafted into the starting line-up five minutes before kick-off after Aaron Lennon felt ill during the warm-up.
The former Newcastle man started poorly, failing to pick up Adebayor from a corner and the former Arsenal striker nodded home to open the scoring after four minutes before the floodgates opened following Crouch's dismissal.
Spurs came back from 3-0 to resurrect their European campaign against Young Boys and almost completed a stunning comeback against Inter Milan in the San Siro.
Now Jenas hopes his team-mates can top those two performances with the most surprising comeback of all in next Wednesday's second leg at White Hart Lane.
"If anyone can do it then we can," said Jenas, who made his 200th appearance for the club last night.
"Who's to say that they won't go down to 10 men and we'll chuck everything at them.
"With the number of times that we have come back this year, I don't see why we can't do it again."
William Gallas conceded the defeat was one of the worst of his career, but has called on his team-mates to bounce back and get their faltering league campaign back on track by beating Stoke on Saturday.
Spurs are without a win since February and trail fourth-placed Chelsea by five points.
Gallas believes the club must now win all eight remaining matches to clinch the top-four finish they crave.
"It would be a shame if we didn't qualify because we have worked so hard," the Frenchman said.
"Now we have to be totally focused on the league and we have to win every game because the teams that are in front of us are very strong, they play good football, and they want to qualify."
Redknapp's injury worries deepened ahead of Saturday's game after Vedran Corluka came off with a twisted ankle last night.
The Croatian, and Lennon, will be monitored over the coming days and Redknapp will be hoping they are both fit given that his squad is already riddled with injured players.Reuse content