London Hearts Supporters Club

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John Robertson <-auth Angus Wright auth-> Levan Paniashvili
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Basel victory leaves Hearts sweating


HEARTS’ hopes of qualifying from the UEFA Cup group phase suffered a setback last night, when the Tynecastle side’s fate was taken out of their hands by FC Basel’s 2-1 win away to Ferencvaros.

Hearts face the Hungarian side in their final group fixture at Murrayfield on 16 December, but not only must John Robertson’s team win, they must now hope that Basel fail to do so at home to Feyenoord, who joined Schalke in the third round with a 2-1 home win against the Germans last night.

Ferencvaros took the lead at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium, Denes Rosa converting the rebound after Szabolcs Huszti’s missed penalty on 22 minutes.

However, Basel equalised courtesy of a crafty goal from Argentine striker Julio Rossi in the 58th minute. Rossi took a long pass from Brazilian defender Kleber and beat Lajos Szucs with a volley from 12 yards.

Kleber also contributed to the second goal - which allowed the Swiss side to jump above Hearts in Group A - when he provided the pass for Benjamin Huggel to head home with 11 minutes of the game left.

A draw between the sides would have left Hearts with a real chance of progressing to the knock-out stages of the competition, and the Tynecastle club’s spies in Hungary would have been off their seats when Ferencvaros won a penalty in the 84th minute. But Szucs squandered the chance to equalise when he sent his spot-kick over the bar.

In the other Group A match, Feyenoord won the battle of the former winners to reach the last 32. The Rotterdam side, winners in 2002 when they beat Borussia Dortmund in their own De Kuip stadium, put their stuttering league form behind them with two goals from Salomon Kalou.

Bundesliga high-flyers and 1997 UEFA Cup winners Schalke, who started with regular strike duo Ebbe Sand and Gerald Asamoah on the bench, had taken a seventh-minute lead when Mike Hanke poked home from close range, but Kalou made it 2-1 with a double before the interval.

Robertson said yesterday that he was grateful to have a free week from UEFA Cup action, with five key Hearts players currently out of action. Steven Pressley, Kevin McKenna, Andy Webster, Robbie Neilson and Neil Macfarlane have not trained so far this week due to injuries.

"Elvis [Pressley] has had a couple of days’ treatment but it is far too early to tell whether he will be fit for the weekend," said the Hearts manager. "Kevin McKenna, Andy Webster, Neil MacFarlane and Robbie Neilson have also not trained so far this week.

"We have been through some tough games and now we must wrap them up in cotton wool."

Taken from the Scotsman

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