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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Colleen Paterson auth-> Steve Conroy
Stewart Michael [D Cadamarteri pen 3] ;[D Cadamarteri 86]
8 of 018 ----- L SPL A

Laszlo not blaming Stewart

HEARTS manager Csaba Laszlo refused to lay the blame for defeat to Dundee United in their SPL opener at Michael Stewart's feet after the midfielder's sending-off in his first match as club captain.
Stewart lasted just 52 minutes at Tannadice after receiving his second yellow card for a late challenge from behind on Scott Robertson, his first booking coming midway through the first half.

Danny Cadamarteri scored twice on his competitive debu t for United to punish the visitors.

Stewart's dismissal leaves Laszlo with a massive headache as he prepares Hearts for their Europa League qualifier against Dinamo Zagreb and Sunday's lunchtime game against Rangers in the league.

The Hungarian has already stated that defender Marius Zaliukas – who is banned for three domestic matches but is available for the European matches – will skipper the side against Zagreb on Thursday night despite the fact that Stewart will also be on the field in Croatia, but both players will now have to sit out Sunday's vital game against Walter Smith's side. Laszlo conceded that he was disappointed his skipper had not dealt with the situation differently but felt that his player had been unfortunate to receive a second booking from Steve Conroy and said: "Mike Stewart did not lose us the game, we lost it together and now we must win the next game together.

"I am in charge of the team and he will always have protection from me unless there is real indiscipline.

"The second yellow card was unlucky. It would have been different if Mike Stewart had punched someone or been shown a straight red for something.

"This can happen with anybody, especially in the midfield in this kind of situation. Also, I thought there were other, more aggressive fouls in the game.

"I don't like to blame no-one, not the referee, not Mike Stewart. We lost the game 2-0 and the red card was a key point but it did not lose us the game."

Aside from losing Stewart with almost 40 minutes left to play, Laszlo's plans had been disrupted before the match by the absence of defender Lee Wallace to a hip injury and he was also without the injured Calum Elliot who was ruled out with a niggling heel problem.

Former Hearts goalkeeper Steve Banks had a seat on the bench at Tannadice and controversial former Jambos defender Andy Webster was given a red-hot welcome by the visiting support when his name was read out in Craig Levein's starting XI.

Hearts had gone into the game looking for a confidence-boosting result before flying out to Zagreb but got off to a nightmare beginning with just 180 seconds on the clock when they fell a goal behind, and it came from the penalty spot after Eggert Jonsson downed Danny Swanson just inside the area.

New boy Cadamarteri stepped up to take the kick and he slotted home from 12 yards with his right foot, Hearts keeper Marian Kello just failing to keep the ball out after a fine effort to save the kick at his right-hand post.

United could, and probably should, have had another spot kick in 18 minutes, this time when Ismael Bouzid brought Cadamarteri down on the opposite side of the box but Conroy chose to wave play on, much to the frustration of Levein and Co in the dugout.

The Jambos could have pulled one back 22 minutes when David Obua knocked the ball to Ruben Palazuelos, who was hovering just outside the 'D'. The Spaniard's shot was a powerful one but Nicky Weaver got down well to his left to collect.

And they carved out another chance when a curling ball in from the left by Suso reached Obua on the far side and he nodded it on for Witteveen but the Austrian's header looped over Weaver's crossbar. Hearts came even closer when Obua's free-kick just a minute later was whipped into the box but Jose Goncalves just couldn't get enough on it to take it into the net.

There was more frustration for Hearts as the break loomed when Weaver first denied Witteveen and then just a couple of minutes later blocked a long-range effort from Obua. After the restart, United could have doubled their advantage when David Goodwillie slipped free from Bouzid but his effort, from an acute angle, fizzed just wide of Kello's left-hand post.

Things went from bad to worse for Hearts just seven minutes into the second half when Stewart was sent for an early bath after being shown his second yellow card and tempers threatened to boil over again with 68 minutes gone when substitute Ian Black slid in to the a challenge on Swanson but it was the United man's reaction which caused the fracas. He kicked out at the Hearts sub and in raced Suso, Christian Nade and Goncalves as the United players also rushed to surround the pair.

Conroy this time flashed his yellow card at Black, Suso and Swanson, much to the fury of the Hearts fans who thought the United player should have suffered a more severe punishment and United boss Levein, obviously fearing that the youngster would get caught up in the heat of the moment again, replaced him with Craig Conway shortly afterwards.

A brilliant save from Kello denied United a second with 75 minutes gone, pushing Goodwillie's header over the bar with one hand at the expense of a corner that came to nothing but the home side got the cushion their play deserved as the game headed for stoppage time.

Morgaro Gomis played the ball to his left for Prince Buaben and he produced a brilliant pass on the angle for Cadamarteri who raced onto the ball before Kello – who had raced off his line – could get there and he steered the ball home from 35 yards.

Hearts almost pulled one back when Goncalves picked out Jonsson in the six-yard box but his header was well saved by Weaver and United manager Levein admitted: "We couldn't really have asked for a better start than that. Winning was the important thing and I thought we deserved to win and we're also through the game without any major injury worries which is also important.

"Danny's goals thrilled me because I think it has been quite a while since he scored 20 goals in a season so they pleased me. I thought his work rate was excellent, along with his energy levels. For his height, I also thought he did well in the air and he really led the line well, allowing Goodwillie to play."

Taken from the Scotsman

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