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<-Page <-Team Thu 20 Aug 2009 Dinamo Zagreb 4 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Nikolay Ivanov
[M Mandzukic 5] ;[D Papadopoulos 36] ;[I Vrdoljak 55] ;[I Biscan 59]
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Hearts left devastated by Zagreb's four-goal blast

THE harsh realities of European football were thrust down Hearts' throats in Croatia last night as Dinamo Zagreb seized a devastating victory in the first leg of the Europa League play-off tie.
Inspired by the South American flair of Brazilian Sammir and Pedro Morales of Chile, the hosts handed Csaba Laszlo's side their worst European defeat in 25 years.

Not since a 4-0 defeat by Paris St Germain in 1984 had the Edinburgh club lost four without reply in continental competition. On the evidence of last night's performance, they face an impossible task to overturn the deficit at Tynecastle next Thursday.

Morales was the catalyst for Dinamo's dominance, moving freely with the ball and roaming into space from his left-sided midfield beat. He was ably assisted by Sammir and striker Mario Mandzukic, a player valued at around £10million by the Dinamo hierarchy.

Mandzukic opened the scoring on five minutes, heading home after Marian Kello appeared to lose Sammir's right-sided cross in the air. Dimitrios Papadopoulos stroked the second home after Kello had parried Mandzukic's shot. After the interval, Ivica Vrdoljak fired the third following Morales' assist and Igor Biscan headed the fourth from the Chilean's corner.

Hearts toiled to offer any attacking threat and recorded just one shot on goal. The players Laszlo hoped could produce a cherished away goal – principally David Obua and Suso – were edged out rather tamely by the Dinamo defenders whenever they strove to get in behind the opposition.

Laszlo, who lost 2-0 against Croatia here in one of his early matches with the Hungarian national side, selected a team aimed at containing Dinamo. Notably, recent signing David Witteveen found himself relegated from the 18-man match squad completely, with Goncalves deployed at left midfield to aid Lee Wallace in coping with the attacking threat of Etto and Sammir on Dinamo's right. The principal challenge facing Laszlo was fashioning a goal from his less-than-potent forward line. He chose Obua to support Christian Nade, although the early sparks emanated from the towering slopes of the Maksimir as booming firecrackers were let off by the vociferous natives.

An uneven playing surface laid just 48 hours previously following two U2 concerts at the stadium failed to upset the hosts' fluent passing, which brought instant danger. Within five minutes they moved ahead. Pedro Morales ghosted past Ruben Palazuelos in midfield to supply Sammir. His quick feet mesmerised Goncalves and his deep cross was equally problematical for Kello. The goalkeeper misjudged the ball in the air at full stretch and the well-positioned Mandzukic promptly converted a header at the back post.

Dinamo moved into a position of almost blanket dominance thereafter. Kello was forced down low to his left to palm Papadopoulos' header clear in the 20th minute, and from the resultant corner Mandzukic was accorded a free header from ten yards but nodded directly into Kello's arms. Morales then dispatched a ferocious 25-yard effort which struck the Hearts crossbar.

On 33 minutes Goncalves and Wallace passed their way down the left but the Scot's cross was comfortably collected by Tomislav Butina in the Dinamo goal with no visiting player in attendance. That about typified Hearts' forward forays in the opening half. Kello held Morales' free-kick before the hosts doubled their advantage nine minutes from the interval. Ismael Bouzid stooped for a headed clearance which landed at Mandzukic's feet. His first-time attempt was parried by Kello, only for Papadopoulos to roll the ball home from six yards.

Marius Zaliukas sprinted instantly to the touchline to converse with Laszlo and seemed to be suggesting that Bouzid be substituted, presumably due to a recurrence of the Algerian's recent shoulder problem. It was evident that Hearts had to assert themselves considerably better in the second half to avoid further damage to their European aspirations, and as such the team was reshuffled for the second period. Ian Black replaced Bouzid, with Goncalves reverting to centre-back and Obua transferring to left midfield. Black took up position tucked in behind Nade.

The alteration accorded the visitors a better attacking shape with Black's passing ability having a settling effect initially. On 50 minutes Suso had his side's first attempt at goal which Butina palmed for a corner. Mandzukic then fastened on to Sammir's loping pass and turned cleverly away from Goncalves, however he slipped in the act of shooting and the ball bounced wide.

The third goal appeared harsh on Hearts. Black appealed for a foul after being forced off the ball midway inside the opposition half. Referee Nikolay Ivanov allowed play to continue as Morales sprinted forward in possession. He supplied Vrdoljak with the ball, and the midfielder checked inside Eggert Jonsson to finish high past Kello. Minutes later Biscan headed the fourth after beating Zaliukas in a sprint to meet Morales' corner at the front post.

Kello averted further damage with a double save from Papadopoulos and Milan Badelj on 68 minutes, aided by Jonsson, who then cleared Badelj's second goalbound effort. Papadopoulos struck the post from close range late on, but by then the victory had long since been made safe.

Dinamo Zagreb: Butina, Etto (Tomecak 20), Biscan, Barbaric, Carlos, Sammir (Kramaric 62), Vrdoljak, Badelj, Morales (Calello 76), Papadopoulos, Mandzukic. Subs not used: Loncaric, Glavina, Slepicka, Sivonjic.

Hearts: Kello, Jonsson, Bouzid (Black 46), Zaliukas, Wallace, Suso (Novikovas 81), M Stewart, Palazuelos, Goncalves, Obua, Nade (Glen 58). Subs not used: Balogh, Kucharski, J Stewart, C Thomson.

Taken from the Scotsman

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