London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Telegraph ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Roddy Forsyth auth-> Levan Paniashvili
[D Rosa 30]
19 of 025 ----- E H

Sorry Hearts add to Scots' misery

By Roddy Forsyth
(Filed: 17/12/2004)

Heart of Midlothian (0) 0 Ferencvaros (1) 1

And then there were none. The attractive prospect of three Scottish side in Europe after Christmas, which was alive until 10 days ago, has been extinguished like a candle in a midwinter gale.

The last opportunity fell to Hearts but in their final UEFA Cup group stage tie against Ferencvaros, in front of 26,182 at Murrayfield last night, they could not capitalise on an encouraging beginning and a cluster of unforced defensive errors allowed Denes Rosa to score the only goal after half an hour of the proceedings.

Had the result been reversed Hearts would not have qualified for the last 32 anyway because of Basle's victory over Feyenoord in the other group match played last night but it would have benefited the seeding status of Scottish clubs, which has been devalued by the events of the past fortnight as Celtic and Rangers also tumbled out of European contention.

John Robertson, the Tynecastle manager, had instructed his players to take the game to their opponents at pace and there were encouraging signs that the Hungarian champions might be vulnerable to Hearts' tactics. With a back four playing a high line and a goalkeeper evidently glued to his line at most crosses, the situation was made for Hearts to play balls over the top, mainly aimed at Mark de Vries.

This they did in the opening quarter hour or so, although the Dutch forward found it more difficult than expected to get into the contest, partly because the Georgian referee was fussy about physical contact. Restricted in an important part of his natural game, de Vries' most telling contribution in the early stages was a mighty throw-in from the right which bounced straight through the crowded Ferencvaros penalty area begging for a touch to take it past Lajos Szucs.

Hearts thought that they had taken the lead when Michael Stewart played a tempting ball into the box and Paul Hartley charged down Zoltan Balog's attempted clearance before controlling the ball and driving low into the net. As Hartley and the home fans celebrated, however, the referee disallowed the goal for handball.

The decision was tough on Hartley but had the circumstances been reversed Hearts would have been greatly aggrieved. Within seconds they were again close to going ahead, this time from a beautifully struck free kick by Jamie McAllister which swirled awkwardly for Szucs but the goalkeeper twisted in his leap to tip the ball over his crossbar.

It took Ferencvaros almost 20 minutes to make their first real foray towards Gordon and it created alarm. Aleksander Bajevski made it to the bye-line for a cutback that was met by Marek Penska with a shot which the midfield player pushed wide from a good position.

Hearts' prospects took a sudden lurch for the worse on the half-hour. Ferencvaros pushed up in numbers and caught Hearts ragged at the back when Peter Lipcsei threaded a ball into the box and Rosa strode on, played onside by Steven Pressley. Gordon saw the danger and blocked Rosa's first attempt only to see the ball rebound to his opponent.

Gordon parried Rosa's next attempt but the Hungarian was first to the ball yet again and he was able to turn the ball across the line at the third time of asking.


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