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<-Page <-Team Thu 04 Nov 2004 Hearts 0 Schalke 04 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Daily Record ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Hugh Keevins auth-> Nikolay Ivanov
Kisnorbo Patrick [C de Souza Soares (Lincoln) 73]
15 of 021 ----- E H


Hearts 0 Schalke 1

By Hugh Keevins

JOHN ROBERTSON will remember his managerial debut for Hearts for all the wrong reasons as the Tynecastle club continued their so far pointless pursuit of a win in the UEFA Cup.

The new appointment saw his side reduced to 10 men when Patrick Kisnorbo was dismissed for two cautions. And two other players, Robbie Neilsen and Paul Hartley, were booked in the midst of a truly difficult night for a side who battled - at times too angrily - to prove they were not out of their depth.

But a belated goal from Cassio Lincoln finally crushed Hearts' spirit,even if their returning hero will believe he can milk better results out of the same players on other days and nights.

The realist in Robertson will know his side were always up against it and would have struggled to get a decent result even if blessed with a full complement for 90 minutes.

An additional three minutes on top of regulation time tantalised the crowd into thinking fate and the introduction of Mark de Vries might help them to achieve a memorable finish but it was not to be.

On the night, too many factors pulled against the Edinburgh side.

Robertson's so-called homecoming was held in rented accommodation on a night when Hearts European prospects were of no fixed abode.

Defeat by Feyenoord in Holland had left him with the task of re-locating his beloved Hearts in a group place where they might feel more secure.

And he knew another loss would bring fears of eviction from the UEFA Cup and meaningless games against Ferencvaros and Basel.

There was no de Vries to start with up front, which was a pity because, if fully fit, he would have helped with the heavy lifting against a German side whose form early in the season had suggested they would take a bit of shifting.

A club record five wins in a row and a move to second place in the German table had brought a huge travelling support to Murrayfield.

Schalke tried to take the game to Hearts immediately, with the Brazilian Ailton testing Craig Gordon with a shot that spun dangerously before dipping over the bar.

It took Hearts the first quarter of the match to fully come to life and generate a performance worthy of the occasion.

The crowd could almost have filled Tynecastle twice over but the atmosphere was muted until Kisnorbo was booked for dissent and Hearts' anger drove them upfield.

Jamie McAllister attempted a shot from outside the penalty area that Frank Rost could only parry and Hartley's swoop on the rebound forced the keeper to make a saving block to give Hearts a corner.

However, sporadic pressure could not disguise the Germans' phenomenal pace in attack and Gerald Asamoah joined Ailton in giving the Jambos persistent problems.

Throughout it all, Robbo sat inside his perspex dug-out, his emotions in check. The manager was still a Hearts player when Schalke won the UEFA Cup in 1997and now he was supposed to beat them after just one training session with his players.

Schalke did their best to take advantage of such a peculiar build-up to the game.They forced three corners in quick succession midway through the opening half to test Hearts' nerve.

But it was speed of movement and precision passing that carried them from their own half of the field into Hearts' penalty area in four moves to create the nearest thing to an opening goal.

Once again, Ailton was on the end of the chance but his final shot went wide of Gordon's left-hand post as the keeper scrambled to take preventive action.

The only disappointment about the Germans was their regrettable tendency to dive whenever the opportunity to con the referee presented itself.

Home fans howled displeasure at Niels Oude-Kamphuis for his histrionics and Robbo was moved to raise an eyebrow towards the fourth official.

Hamit Altinop then decided to over-react when Neilsen came in with a lusty challenge.

Neilsen was yellow-carded,the German rolled around the pitch and the nonsense continued.

And yet when Lincoln's clever lob had Gordon contorting his body to push the ball to safety, it proved the visitors had no need of deception to underline their supremacy.

The horrible irony was that Hearts were the team severely punished for diving two minutes after the interval when Kisnorbo was ordered off for a second bookable offence.

The big Australian tried to win his side a penalty kick with an extravagant twist and pike that turned Oude-Kamphuis, his alleged assailant,into an innocent bystander.

Russian referee Nikolai Ivanov had no hesitation in producing a yellow and then a red card to make Hearts' job even more arduous.

But there was no querying the decision because the exaggerated fall wasa foolish attempt to secure an unfair advantage and the match official could only follow the letter of the law.

The course of action Robertson took was to replace Ramon Pereira with Neil MacFarlane in time to see Ebbe Sand hit the post from close range when Gordon had no hope of a save.Oude-Kam-phuis then struck the other post with a deceptive cross-cum-shot that Gordon lost on its travels.

Schalke scented blood and piled on the pressure.

The rebound would have been squeezed over the line but for a despairing tackle from the alert Andy Webster on Sand.

At that point, the rest of the game became a test of whether the numerically-disadvantaged Hearts could possibly hold out against opposition who were swarming all over them.

It took Schalke until the 73rd minute of the match to confirm their superiority.

Lincoln unleashed a shot from 25 yards that beat Gordon as he dived to his right. The keeper looked disgusted with himself and it did appear as if he could have got a stronger hand on the ball but it was a pretty decent strike all the same.

Robbo would certainly have been happy to claim it as one of his own in the old days had the circumstances been different.

Taken from the Daily Record

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