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|<-Page||<-Team||Thu 25 Nov 2004 FC Basel 1 Hearts 2||Team->||Page->|
|<-Srce||<-Type||Scotsman ------ Report||Type->||Srce->|
|John Robertson||<-auth||James Porteous||auth->||Kristinn Jakobsson|
|[C Carignano 76]|
|16||of 018||Dennis Wyness 31 ;Robbie Neilson 89||E||A|
Swiss bliss for John as Hearts soar
Jambos legend hails his players after superb feat in ground which has been a graveyard for many top Euro clubs.
PAUL KIDDIE IN BASEL
HEARTS boss John Robertson today spoke of his immense pride as the Jambos wrote another glorious chapter in their European history with a stunning UEFA Cup triumph over Basel.
The magnificent 2-1 victory over the Swiss league leaders at the Stadion St Jakob Park saw the Gorgie outfit do what the likes of Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool and Valencia had all failed to achieve in recent years.
Robertson enjoyed many special European nights during a legendary playing career at Tynecastle but such is the magnitude of this latest triumph that the new boss, who has been at the helm for just a matter of weeks, will wait a long time to top the shock result masterminded in his first Euro tie as a manager.
Hearts have enjoyed some memorable occasions on foreign soil but the win over Christian Gross’ side which has aspirations of doing well in the Champions League must rank as arguably the best yet.
Vienna, Bordeaux and Braga were special moments in the club’s proud history but the events of last night will burn brightly for years to come in the memory of the 2000 fans who made the journey to Switzerland.
The home side have proved themselves formidable opposition at their imposing home but they simply had no answer to the stirring performance of Robertson’s outfit, goals from Dennis Wyness and Robbie Neilson giving Hearts their first points in Group A and providing the team with a great chance of qualifying for the last 32 of the competition.
With Hungarians Ferencvaros due to visit Murrayfield next month, another win should be enough to carry the Jambos through to what would be a phenomenal achievement.
"It is a fantastic feeling and my admiration and pride for the players is immense," said Robertson.
"We needed to be brave to win and we were. It is fantastic for the supporters who came over to back us and had the belief that we could win the match.
"We have now given ourselves a chance and that is what we had to do. It was a fabulous result considering the teams Basel have beaten at the stadium. We now face Ferencvaros at Murrayfield in front of what hopefully will be a bumper crowd next month. A win would just about take us through and we are in this cup to try to go as far as we can.
"A draw last night would still have given us a chance depending on how other results went in the group but we knew that winning our last two games would give us a great chance of progressing."
Robbo may be a novice in terms of managing in Europe but he got his tactics spot-on against the team which won the Swiss league by 13 points last season.
Hearts had been written off by almost everyone ahead of the make-or-break encounter but Robertson promised to attack Basel and true to his word he fielded an adventurous line-up with Mark de Vries, Ramon Pereira, Joe Hamill and Wyness all on from the start.
"It was all down to the players’ belief and ability," said the Hearts boss. "You can work on tactics until you’re blue in the face but if they don’t perform then it doesn’t work.
"I can’t praise the players enough for what they did. I am thrilled for the supporters and you could see by the reaction of them and the players at the end what it meant to them."
Robertson’s team selection was a major gamble but fortune favoured the brave on a bitterly cold night in the picturesque Swiss town.
Luck is something which had been in short supply for Hearts in the current Group A campaign, some dreadful decisions from officials contributing significantly to a disappointing start which saw them kick-off last night’s clash rooted to the foot of the table with no points from their opening two matches against Feyenoord and Schalke.
Few would have denied the Jambos a slice of fortune and Lady Luck was certainly smiling on them as they broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark through Wyness.
The rejuvenated front man lashed home his first goal in Europe with a crisply-hit shot after good work from Hamill and Pereira, although the Spaniard appeared to be in a clearly offside position as he lurked in the six-yard box.
Unlike in Rotterdam, though, when Kevin McKenna had a perfectly good goal disallowed, there was no flag and the Tynecastle outfit had the dream start Robertson had been craving.
The goal sent the travelling fans into dreamland and a handful could not contain their exuberance, spilling onto the field of play in an incident which could see both clubs in hot water with UEFA.
Some wayward finishing from the home side combined with brilliant goalkeeping from Craig Gordon - one save in particular from Scott Chipperfield in the second half as he somehow got down to the Australian’s diving header defying belief - saw Hearts maintain that advantage until 13 minutes from time when Cesar Andres Carignano hauled Basel level.
However, just when it looked like another hard luck story, up popped the most unlikely of heroes in the shape of Robbie Neilson, the defender blasting home his first goal for the club in the 89th minute.
Hearts may have enjoyed some good fortune - Alan Maybury, for example, was in the right place at the right to clear Carignano’s header off the line - but this was no lucky triumph.
The win was thoroughly merited and they could even have grabbed further goals with Graham Weir, having replaced the exhausted De Vries late in the game, spurning a great chance when one on one with Pascal Zuberbuhler in stoppage time.
It was a real team effort with every man playing his part with special mention for captain Steven Pressley who climbed out of his sick bed to turn in a sterling display at the back alongside Andy Webster, Neilson and Maybury.
"That has to be up there with the great nights in Europe," added Robertson. "We won in Vienna against the odds and Craig [Levein] had fantastic results in Braga and Bordeaux.
"But Basel have been one of the top sides in Europe in recent years. We passed the ball against them and we will get better. This is the way we want to play and hopefully we will now go from strength to strength."
SHOTS ON TARGET
SHOTS OFF TARGET
Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Pressley, Webster, Maybury, Hamill, Stewart (MacFarlane, 70), McAllister, Wyness, Pereira (Stamp, 66), De Vries (Weir, 86). Subs not used: Moilanen, Janczyk, Sloan, Berra.
PAUL KIDDIE'S STAR MAN
The supporters' view
Derek O’Connor, ex-player: "This was a great result. The team worked well as a unit. Overall we deserved to win."
James Porteous, Glasgow: "I was disappointed with the state of the pitch that appeared to cut up easily. This may have worked in Hearts’ favour as Basel never seemed to get into their stride."
David Whittaker, Glasgow: "For once in the last few games we were treated fairly by the club officials. The performance overall was brilliant. Roll on Ferencvaros."
Robert Green, Edinburgh: "The team deserved what they got on the night. They played with a lot of passion. It would have been good if Graham Weir had knocked in a third one near the end."
David Young, Edinburgh: "I thought that Craig Gordon, Steven Pressley and Andy Webster were immense on the night. However it would be unfair to single out any individuals. A great result."
September 16, 2004: Hearts 3, Braga 1 September 30, 2004: Braga 2, Hearts 2
HEARTS created history as they took on Sporting Braga at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby, and marked the occasion with a 3-1 win, Patrick Kisnorbo scoring in the last minute to follow earlier strikes from Andy Webster and Paul Hartley. And the Jambos completed the job in Portugal with a 2-2 draw, both goals coming from Mark de Vries.
November 6, 2003: Bordeaux 0, Hearts 1
SOME 3000 HEARTS fans travelled to France to see Craig Levein’s side grab a stunning win over Bordeaux thanks to a goal from Mark de Vries which, unfortunately, wasn’t enough as the French side scored twice in Gorgie.
September 30, 1992: Hearts 4, Slavia Prague 2
TRAILING the Czech club 1-0, the Jam Tarts eased through to the second round of the UEFA Cup with a 4-2 win in Edinburgh, the goals coming from Ian Baird, Gorgie legend Gary Mackay, recently- departed boss Craig Levein and Glynn Snodin.
February 28, 1989: Hearts 1, Bayern Munich 0
MORE than 26,000 fans were crammed into Tynecastle as Hearts beat mighty Bayern in the first leg of their UEFA Cup quarter-final with a stunning strike from Iain Ferguson. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Germans held out to win 2-0 in the Olympic Stadium in Munich.
November 23, 1988: Hearts 3, Velez Mostar 0
HEARTS cruised through the home leg of their UEFA Cup third round tie against the Yugoslavian outfit with goals from John Colquhoun, Eamonn Bannon and Mike Galloway, a 3-0 win enough for the Tynecastle outfit to progress despite going down 2-1 in the return match.
September 29, 1976: Hearts 5, Lokomotiv Leipzig 1
TRAILING the Germans 2-0 from the first leg of this European Cup Winners’ Cup first-round tie, Hearts launched their own blitzkreig with five goals from Roy Kay, Willie Gibson (2), Jim Brown and Drew Busby.
|<-Page||<-Team||Thu 25 Nov 2004 FC Basel 1 Hearts 2||Team->||Page->|