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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Stuart Bathgate And Stephen Halliday auth-> Craig Thomson
[L McCulloch 62] ;[K Boyd pen 91] Kevin Thomson
1 of 012 David Witteveen 30 L SPL H

Tynecastle manager laments his team's shortcomings but insists they can bounce back against Rangers

CSABA Laszlo yesterday reflected ruefully on his team's 4-0 defeat by Dinamo Zagreb, and insisted they would do all they could to get a good result against Rangers tomorrow and kickstart their season.
Speaking less than 12 hours after the Hearts party returned from their Europa League play-off first leg, the Tynecastle manager also pledged that his team would try to make at least partial amends by winning next Thursday's second leg at Tynecastle.

"This was not the best football night for us," Laszlo began, with little chance of being contradicted. "Dinamo Zagreb were the better team.

"Tactically we did everything – we watched five or six DVDs. I told my team if we closed the area, especially in the first 20 minutes, they (ie Zagreb] would lose patience.

"What happened? We lost a goal after five minutes. We lost confidence. Especially in the first half it was not a good game for us. The fighting spirit, the will, was not OK. I said we can lose games, but don't lose face.

"We must think about this and we must be realistic. We must analyse this problem. We can't sweep it under the carpet."

Although he appeared more frustrated, and at a loss to explain his team's performance, than at any time since he became Hearts manager, Laszlo insisted his team would recover from their humiliation in the Croatian capital. "We must bring success back and the first step is the Rangers game," he continued.

"The next step is to show our best face on Thursday and win that game. Dinamo Zagreb can score away goals, but we need to win the game."

Having lost Marius Zaliukas and Michael Stewart to suspension, and being without Calum Elliot, Andy Driver and Laryea Kingston through injury, Hearts will be forced to play some of their least experienced players tomorrow. Two who come into that category, Gary Glen and Arvydas Novikovas, were among their better performers in Zagreb, so Laszlo will not necessarily have any fears on that front.

Jose Goncalves, who started in midfield before reverting to centre-back in that game, said that whoever played had to do so with pride and commitment. "On Sunday we will have to show some of the pride that we didn't show yesterday," he said. "We let everyone down and it's unacceptable."

Rangers manager Walter Smith believes that Hearts' grim experience on Thursday night may actually make victory harder for the SPL champions to achieve at Tynecastle tomorrow.

Smith is wary of the response he expects his opposite number Laszlo to provoke from the Hearts players, who followed their opening 2-0 SPL loss at Dundee United on Monday with the humbling 4-0 reverse in Croatia.

"I don't think it will have any effect on Sunday's game, other than to make Hearts even more determined to get something against Rangers," insisted Smith.

"Hearts have obviously not had the start to the season they would want. But you take into account that they have had tough games.

"We all have disappointments at some stage and I think Hearts usually seem to have a decent reaction to that kind of thing. Last season, whenever they lost a couple of games under Csaba, they always seemed able to lift themselves and come back. I don't see Sunday's game being any different.

"We had one of our poorer performances of last season at Tynecastle when we lost this fixture 2-1. We know the type of game we are going to get. We realise that unless we play to a really good level, we face the prospect of losing out. Under Csaba, they have had good pride in their performance and they would be looking to try and close the gap on the Old Firm this season if they could."

Smith added: "Hearts, if they need any other motivation when they play against Rangers, will find it in the sense that losing the first two games of the season is never a good thing.

"When you add in the situation that Rangers are one of the teams they want to get closer to in the league this season, then they've got every motivation to do well. That's something we will have to be careful with."

Smith welcomes full-back Sasa Papac back from suspension, but is again without the injured Pedro Mendes and Nacho Novo. He hopes both will be fit for next week's home fixture with Hamilton.

While satisfied with the final outcome of last Saturday's opening day 4-1 win over Falkirk at Ibrox, Smith will look for a better performance level from his team tomorrow. "We scored some good goals last week, but there was a little bit of inconsistency in the overall display," he added. "Hopefully we will improve as the games come along."

Taken from the Scotsman

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