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John Robertson <-auth Phil Gordon auth-> Levan Paniashvili
[D Rosa 30]
15 of 025 ----- E H

Hearts bow out to join sorry list of Scottish absentees

By Phil Gordon

Heart of Midlothian 0 Ferencvaros 1

IT IS going to be a long hard winter. Scotland’s interest in Europe ended last night as Heart of Midlothian’s attempt to reach the last 32 of the Uefa Cup ended in failure at Murrayfield.

John Robertson’s side failed to profit from a fine early spell and succumbed to a ruthless first-half counter-attack from Denes Rosa. The cherished prize of third place evaporated and the hope that FC Basle would spill points against Feyenoord proved immaterial.

The Swiss side won and Hearts, like Celtic and Rangers, are now mere spectators. “We can now concentrate on the domestic scene,” Robertson said. “However, we will be back next season, and much wiser for this experience.”

Yet another large crowd had gathered at Murrayfield in anticipation of a memorable evening. Hearts’ surprise success a fortnight ago in Basle had galvanised the club’s support, but also Robertson’s players.

The manager’s selection, though, contained a few surprises for the supporters to digest. Dennis Wyness, who scored in Switzerland, was left on the bench at the expense of Graham Weir, while Michael Stewart was given a role in midfield despite playing barely a handful of games since arriving on loan from Manchester United, indicating Robertson’s belief that he is a big-game player.

Certainly, Robertson had plenty to satisfy him in the opening 20 minutes as Hearts laid siege to the Hungarians’ goal. A fine run down the right by Paul Hartley pierced the Ferencvaros defence and ended with a raking shot that was scrambled past the post by Lajos Szucs, the goalkeeper.

Hartley had the ball in the net after 13 minutes, but his composed finish was rightly ruled off because he had handled the ball en route to the box. Then Jamie McAllister summoned up a fierce free kick that was pushed over the bar by Szucs. However, the smooth movement of Ferencvaros hinted at a threat on the break and Aleksander Bajevski illustrated that with his run into the box and clever cut-back that was squandered by Marek Penska.

The balance of pressure, though, was firmly weighted in Hearts’ favour and Stewart created a chance when he threaded a fine pass into the run of Hartley whose shot was saved by the legs of Szucs.

However, with such hunger to score comes a vulnerability and Hearts found their task harder after Rosa gave Ferencvaros the lead after 29 minutes. The midfield player latched on to a fine pass by Peter Lipcsei, and though Hearts appealed for offside, Steven Pressley had played Rosa onside. The lack of reaction, thereafter, from Hearts was lamentable as Rosa required three attempts to finish. Craig Gordon splendidly saved the first two, with his right and then left hand, before Rosa steered the last into the empty net.

Hearts tried to respond quickly and Stewart thrashed a shot over the bar before Mark de Vries — hitherto anonymous — saw his shot from 25 yards deflected by Gabor Gyepes which required Szucs to change direction and touch the ball wide.

Ferencvaros then indulged in some theatrical outbursts, prompting two mêlées between the sides, and Hearts’ frustration was in danger of clouding their objective.

Hearts thought they had restored parity just seven minutes into the second half when de Vries’s measured pass released Stewart whose low shot was spilled by Szucs. Weir was poised to finish off the rebound when Gyepes hooked it away.

However, despite the obvious industry in Hearts’ play, they required some invention as Ferencvaros simply camped in and soaked up the pressure. The arrival of Ramon Pereira, replacing McAllister just after the hour, was the man Robertson hoped would be the catalyst.

By then, news had filtered around Murrayfield of Basle’s lead against Feyenoord, increasing the urgency of Hearts’ task.

With 20 minutes to go, Robertson gambled by withdrawing Kisnorbo, a midfield player, and bringing on Wyness. Pressley came close soon after, with a downward header that crept narrowly wide, before Kevin McKenna was thrown on for the final onslaught. The towering Canada player ought to have equalised when Neilson picked him out, but his header was misdirected.

Taken from

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