London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Thu 04 Aug 2011 Hearts 4 Paksi SE 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Daily Mail ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Paulo Sergio <-auth John Greechan auth-> Robert Malek
[D Böde 89]
11 of 014 Ryan Stevenson 34 ;Ryan Stevenson 45 ;Andrew Driver 50 ;Rudi Skacel 76E H

New boss Sergio starts with a bang!

By John Greechan

All's well, then? There is nothing quite like a big result to get everyone onside. And, regardless of the paucity of the opposition, this was a very big result for Hearts.

A Ryan Stevenson double, a great strike from Andrew Driver - making yet another injury comeback - and a tap-in from the newly re-signed Rudi Skacel were more than enough to put Hearts into today's draw for the Europa League play-offs at UEFA HQ in Nyon.

There they will join Champions League flops Rangers and last year's SPL runnersup Celtic. If the dream of getting in among the Old Firm on the domestic front remains unfulfilled, as yet, the Gorgie boys can at least enjoy sharing equal footing with the big two in Europe.

From a Scottish perspective, the possibility of three teams actually reaching the group stages of UEFA's second-tier tournament is to be grasped.

For Hearts, this was a victory to be celebrated on many fronts. Whatever the official line being spun by the Tynecastle board, much of the credit must go Jim Jefferies, the manager sacked jus t 72 hour s before last night's second leg.

Yet the record books will show Paulo Sergio started his managerial reign with a thumping win. After all that has been said over the past few days, anything less just wouldn't have been acceptable.

Aware of the need to distract any disgruntled punters still grumbling about Jefferies' exit, the club put out some major news at lunchtime yesterday, confirming Skacel had signed a contract to keep him at Hearts until the end of January.

That was enough to get the Czech midfielder on the bench, from where he would make some impact. Injury-hit Driver made his first start of the campaign, naturally hoping to improve on his previous starting appearance - 21 minutes against Dundee United in May.

David Obua was missing from the squad completely, Stevenson stepping up from the bench. Popular moves all round, then, perhaps in a bid to stave off any dissent.

Not that any angry fans would have found the need to focus their ire on owner Vladimir Romanov last night as their team eased to an untroubled victory.

He would have heard one early and rather half-hearted chant in support of Jefferies, straight from the off followed by a cry for Sergio to, in the time-honoured tradition, 'gie's a wave'. As if even the Portuguese coach's fluent English was meant to encompass the Scots vernacular.

Among the tugging of shirts and clattering of studs that passed for football in the opening phase - punctuated by Paksi doing their best to prevent the home team from establishing any rhythm - incidents of note were limited.

Stephen Elliott, having been blocked off by Laszlo Eger after just nine minutes and the Paksi defender booked for his troubles, lasted barely three minutes longer before limping off, his place up front taken by John Sutton.

Having played on the break in the home leg, Paksi were unlikely to change for the trip to Edinburgh. Had they been a bit more streetwise, their tactics might have paid off, too.

Adrian Mrowiec very nearly sold the maroon jerseys just before the half-hour mark, his attempt to play a blind passback giving possession to Tamas Kiss in a one-on-one with Marius Zaliukas.

The Hearts skipper stood up well to make the tackle inside the box but, when Laszlo Bartha collected the ball and went down under a double challenge from Eggert Jonsson and Ian Black, the visitors had a claim for a penalty.

Fortunately for new boss Sergio, referee Robert Malek's whistle blew only for a free-kick to Hearts and a booking for the winger deemed guilty of simulation. Relieved not to find themselves behind, Hearts soon put clear blue water between themselves and the Hungarian minnows enjoying their first-ever European campaign.

Danny Grainger's corner was typically tempting, Stevenson's leap prodigious, his downward header strong enough to cause Norbert Csernyanszky - lousy goalkeeper, great Scrabble score - to fumble the ball over the line.

Bang on the stroke of half-time, Stevens on made it 2-0 by beating the bold Norbert from an improbably tight angle.

Hearts v Paks

Hearts: Kello, McGowan, Zaliukas, Jonsson, Grainger, Templeton, Black, Mrowiec, Driver, Elliott, Stevenson. Subs: MacDonald, Hamill, Barr, Sutton, Novikovas, Skacel, Robinson.

Paks: Csernyanszki, Tibor Heffler, Eger, Fiola, Balo, Bartha, Bode, Sipeki, Sifter, Tamas Kiss, Magasfoldi. Subs: Pokorni,
Gevay, Csehi, Meszaros, Hrepka, Norbert Heffler, Montvai.

Referee: Robert Malek (Poland)

Paksi did muster a response of sorts early in the second half, Daniel Bode poking the ball just wide after a brilliant surging run. No more than minimal resistance.

And, with just 50 minutes on the clock, even the most optimistic of the 50 souls dotted around the away end would surely have given up hope as Driver took a lay-off from Sutton and lashed a right-footed shot into the top corner.

Marian Kello had enjoyed a quiet night in goal for Hearts but, with 17 minutes left, he was required to halt Bode in a one-on-one. How Paksi boss Karoly Kis must wish for a keeper of Kello's quality.

Two minutes later, the visiting goalie fumbled a long-range Templeton shot, allowing Skacel to bury the rebound. Bode finally beat Kello with two minutes left, his powerful header giving the home No 1 no chance.

Much too little, way too late. The Hearts fans ended the night singing not only Rudi's name, but that of the new boss. Oh, and with one lusty chorus in remembrance of the old gaffer, too. All's well, indeed.

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