London Hearts Supporters Club

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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Moira Gordon auth-> Mike Tumilty
[D Bent 40]
2 of 003 David Obua 30F H

Bent outshone at Tynecastle

Published Date: 09 August 2009
By Moira Gordon at Tynecastle
SUNDERLAND took the opportunity to give a debut to their £10m signing Darren Bent but it was a lad who cost nothing that caught the eye.
While Bent's drawn-out transfer from Tottenham Hotspur was well-documented, the arrival of Suso Santana from Tenerife failed to make waves, even amongst the Hearts support. The 24-year-old, who spent the past year on loan to Fuerteventura, joined the Tynecastle club under freedom of contract on a three-year deal and if he can maintain this level of performance it will prove an absolute steal.

With him on one wing and Andrew Driver expected to return to the other in a couple of weeks, Csaba Laszlo would be grateful for a fraction of Steve Bruce's transfer kitty to attract a goalscorer capable of capitalising on the service the pair will provide. As it is he is still keen to land another striker ahead of next week's opening league match at Tannadice.

In the final preparation game he said he had been seeking perfection from his team. "For me, we were not so far away," he said. The niggling blemish was the goal conceded (scored by Bent) but there were definitely positives. The most notable being Santana.

In a 4-3-3 attacking formation he was one of those who offered ample support to the lead striker, Christian Nade, with his trickery, ingenuity and drive carving out opportunities for Hearts and giving Sunderland skipper Danny Collins, in particular, an afternoon that he will be hoping his manager has forgotten by the time he pens his team for the start of the Premier League campaign.

Collins wasn't the only one perturbed by the little Spaniard, though, who showed enough to suggest he could be the most exciting arrival at Tynecastle since Rudi Skacel. The fans certainly approved of his movement and endeavour. It wasn't a one-man escapade but against an English top flight team he was the catalyst in Hearts' forward forays, showing the right appetite from start to finish.

The Sunderland fans had travelled in numbers hoping to see a masterclass from Bent but on a day when the Hearts midfield more than held their own, the England international didn't see enough of the ball. He still managed to grab the equaliser, though.

That came in the 40th minute. Steed Malbranque had skelped in the original shot, evading Marian Kello and with the Hearts centre-backs absent, it was the covering Eggert Jonsson who tried to get it out from under his own feet and clear. He couldn't do it quickly enough, though, with Bent reacting fastest and, from only a couple of yards out, he buried it into the back of the net.

But Hearts were the team creating the greater number of chances and playing some entertaining stuff in the process. Even if the goals don't prove plentiful, the build up play looks like being more attractive this term. From the first minute when captain Michael Stewart breenged into the Sunderland box and went down appealing for a penalty, they set out their stall as an attacking force and showed no hint of being in awe of their opponents.

Hearts took the lead in the 30th minute when a Santana corner was flicked on at the near post by Nade and David Obua took the ball on the turn from abut 14 yards out and sent a screamer past Fulop.

In the second half substitutions disrupted the rhythm but Hearts still showed greater hunger. Bent had one effort but that was outnumbered by attempts from Santana, Gary Glen, a Nade free-kick and an Ian Black shot in the dying seconds.

Hearts have switched technical areas to allow Laszlo to get closer to the nearside assistant referee but also, he says, to give him a better view of the match. What he saw yesterday will have given him grounds for optimism.

Hearts: Kello, Wallace, Jonsson, Goncalves, Palazuelos, Santana, Witteveen, Obua, Nade, Bouzid, Stewart.

Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Collins, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, Leadbitter, Malbranque, Bent, Campbell, Richardson, Reid.

Referee: Mike Tumilty. Attendance: 12,337.

Taken from the Scotsman

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