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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]
7 of 009 ----- E A

Laszlo shattered after thumping

Dinamo Zagreb 4 - 0 Hearts
IT was a previously unseen Csaba Laszlo who addressed the media last night following Hearts' most comprehensive European defeat for 25 years.
Deep in the bowels of Stadion Maksimir, which translates as maximum peace, the Hungarian looked destroyed after Dinamo Zagreb went to war on his team. He sat slumped, spoke in an inert tone and clearly toiled to digest the 90 minutes beforehand.

Not since a 4-0 reverse against Paris St Germain in 1984 had Hearts suffered such devastation in continental battle. However, it is the future that must concern Laszlo. Aspirations of Europa League group qualification lie in pieces following this first-leg tie but more pressing is his team's apparent lack of resistance. Positives were scarce on a night when few in maroon could justifiably lay claim to pass marks. Solutions appear similarly sparse, save for majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov sanctioning serious investment to recruit the necessary quality and experience required.

Krunoslav Jurcic, the Dinamo coach, attended Tannadice on Monday evening and would have noted that Eggert Jonsson lacks the instinct of a natural full-back. Principally because he is a central midfielder. He would also have been aware that Suso, Hearts' Spanish winger, often positions himself far up the right flank and leaves the Icelander behind him exposed. It was textbook homework for the Croatian and he achieved full marks by handing the Chilean Pedro Morales licence to roam free on Dinamo's left, causing untold damage. He was assisted by a fellow South American, the Brazilian Sammir, on the opposite flank. With the slick, powerful front two of Dimitrios Papadopoulos and Mario Mandzukic, the Croatian champions were simply overwhelming.

Hearts toiled to get a foothold in proceedings throughout the evening. Their best available striker, Gary Glen, did not take the field until almost an hour had been played, by which time Dinamo were 3-0 ahead and out of sight. In just over 30 minutes Glen managed to cover significantly more ground than Christian Nade had done in the previous hour as Hearts' attacking insufficiency was exposed once again.

David Obua was anonymous in an attacking central midfield role while Jose Goncalves played the first half at left midfield but looked uncomfortable. Ruben Palazuelos and Michael Stewart watched Dinamo's splendid array of short, sharp passes go back and forth in front of them. They chased and harried, but little could be done to halt Jurcic's side.

Laszlo lamented the loss of a goal to Mandzukic after only five minutes but recognised that the experience and sharpness of mind possessed by Dinamo had been telling. "I said before Dinamo was a good team with a lot of experienced players. It was very unlucky to lose an early goal. After that we had a very big problem. Now we must try to win the home game," he said.

"I am realistic. I don't think, against a team like Dinamo Zagreb, you can score seven or five goals, but we must try to win the game, especially for our supporters who have suffered with us. We don't search for an excuse. We had a game on Monday then this next game. We cannot say everything was positive, everything negative we must talk about. I think 4-0 was a result you cannot take at this level. You must play more aggressive, more open, and you must show you are proud. This was not there. The young players without experience had a difficult time. This is life.

"I don't like to tell what I feel but I am part of the team. I don't like to support nobody and say everything in the team is okay. The players can't believe we lost 4-0 but this is the reality. I said before the game if you stay good and compact and don't lose an early goal, you have the possibility to come out and try. But after five minutes at 1-0 for the opponents it was very hard.

"I tried to have Christian Nade up front with David Obua behind. (David] Witteveen had a problem with his shoulder and we don't have so many strikers. We had Gary Glen on for Nade, he had a big deficit and we could not keep the ball up front. The reality is also that we lost our four best players this year so we had to build a completely new team. In international football this will be punished very quickly.

"We cannot go down, we have Rangers on Sunday and the next game against Dinamo. We can't have excuses, we must win. If you don't have a striker, other players must score goals. I must respect the supporters who supported us in big numbers in Zagreb. We must do something for them."

Laszlo lingered on his point about trying to compete at European level with players only recently promoted from the youth team. "If you saw our bench, the oldest player was 19 I think," he continued. "This is the biggest question for me. If you come to the Europa League and you play against a team like Dinamo Zagreb, who have scored over 20 goals in four games in the league, this is not an accident. With all these young players on the field, to feel, to explain and to have the duties is not easy. They tried and I am not angry about the team. I was realistic for the game. I said you must not lose very high, but this is different. We lost 4-0.

"I hope next year we can play at international level. It is only a question if these young players can learn in this time not to get the same result."

Dinamo made light of the sub-standard playing surface, which had been re-laid just 48 hours previously due to U2 concerts at the stadium. In truth, their passing was virtually faultless. Mandzukic's back-post header opened the scoring after Marian Kello appeared to lose Sammir's right-sided cross in the air. Morales' effort from distance clipped the Slovakian's crossbar with Dinamo in complete control and it was no great surprise to see Papadopoulos score the second from close range after Kello palmed Mandzukic's shot to his left.

At half-time Hearts were craving a hint of inspiration. Marius Zaliukas appeared to be pleading with Laszlo to substitute Ismael Bouzid, who had been carrying a shoulder injury, as the teams left the field. Ian Black's introduction seemed to help the visitors compose themselves but two goals inside four minutes decided the tie. After Black seemed to be illegally nudged off the ball, Morales broke clear to supply Ivica Vrdoljak and he arced the third into Kello's top corner. The former Liverpool defender Igor Biscan beat Marius Zaliukas to Morales' corner to head the fourth on the hour.

Kello averted additional 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 Hearts' only shot at goal during the 90 minutes was a 50th minute drive from Suso, which Dinamo goalkeeper Tomislav Butina turned away for a corner.

"It is a difficult moment for everybody," said Palazuelos afterwards. "We came here to Croatia with so many fans who spent good money to follow us and I feel very sorry for them because we lost 4-0. It is hard to say any more because everybody can see that the other team was better than us. The problem came when they scored so early and maybe our heads went down.

"It will be difficult to save the tie but anything can happen in football. For now, the most important thing is Sunday against Rangers and then we will see what happens. Then we will play against Zagreb at Tynecastle. We have character and it is possible our heads may be down after this. But it is important we stick together now and show that on Sunday and win the game because it is important for our confidence."

Jurcic was questioned by an unbelievably scathing Croatian media on whether his team could have done better, but kept his composure. "I am very pleased with the way we played and with the result but we have to stay focused for the second leg," he said.

"We managed to impose our style of play, we used a lot of short passes and managed to keep the ball on the ground. I have to thank our players who take all the credit for it because they positioned very well on the pitch and were very quick to react. Maybe it is not the time to criticise some elements of their game, but we also have to improve the way we controlled the rhythm of the match. I have to give thanks to our supporters and the people who prepared the pitch at the stadium. The pitch was okay, maybe somewhat patchy in the centre of the field but it did not influence our way of playing to such an extent. I am pleased with the form of the players because everything was the way we planned it. We were in the best form for the third round of the Champions League and now the Europa League.

"This is not the moment to criticise but apart from the rhythm of the match we also have to be more precise in order to secure good results. We can't be content with the percentage of converted shots. Maybe in this match this was not so important but in difficult matches against tough opponents it will be."

Clearly Jurcic is anticipating sterner tests in the Europa League group phase but, for Hearts, it has seldom been tougher than last night.

Taken from the Scotsman

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