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13 of 014 Ryan Stevenson 34 ;Ryan Stevenson 45 ;Andrew Driver 50 ;Rudi Skacel 76E H

Hail Sergio! Hail Stevenson! Hearts march on in Europe

Stewart Fisher

5 Aug 2011

THE King is dead, long live the King.

A couple of days of messy revolution at Tynecastle, which saw the purge of a bona fide Hearts legend in the form of Jim Jefferies, were consigned to the history books last night as Paulo Sergio made a stylish start to the process of usurping his place on the throne.

It was the former Sporting Lisbon coach's name which was cheered to the rooftops after a 4-1 victory over Paksi SE, one of the more satisfying European results in the club's recent memory and one which allows them to take their place alongside Rangers and Celtic in today's Europa League play-off round draw in Nyon.

All this in front of the Tynecastle Tsar, Vladimir Romanov, who surveyed his new plaything like a Roman emperor with his gladiators.

There were more changes in the Hearts dug-out than on the field. Sergio had vowed not to change too much from the Jefferies template, and generally he stuck to his word.

He tinkered with the shape, going to a 4-1-3-2 formation and introducing Ryan Stevenson and a fit-again Andrew Driver for David Obua and John Sutton. This sense of continuity was understandable but rather confounded Romanov who, in a radio interview earlier in the day, had slammed Jefferies for playing "typical Scottish football".

The first substitution of the Sergio era arrived after just 12 minutes, and took the edge off an impressive, attacking start from the home side.

Paksi captain Laszlo Eger was booked for inflicting damage on Stephen Elliot which was severe enough to see the Irishman leave the action to be replaced by John Sutton.

The visitors were not entirely devoid of threat. Midfielders Daniel Bode and Istvan Sipeki both tugged shots wide, while Adrian Mrowiec caused apoplexy in the home areas when his back pass led to a chance from which Laszlo Bartha took an eternity to get in a shot.

But it was also soon clear that Paksi stopper Norbert Csernyanszky was a better Scrabble score than he was goalkeeper. The first signs of frailty were exposed when Danny Grainger, a man who already looks like a more than adequate replacement for Lee Wallace, fired over a corner which went untouched until Eggert Jonsson deflected it wide.

Just after the half-hour mark, the goalie was picking the ball out of the net. Another Grainger corner was met by Stevenson and, although the former Ayr United man's header was in the middle of the goal, it slipped out of Csernyanszky's reach.

The first half-time team talk of the former Sporting Lisbon man's Hearts career was made distinctly easier by the fact the ground was still reverberating from the arrival of the killer second goal. Again Csernyanszky was culpable, as Sutton and Stevenson got in each other's way before the latter's low shot went in at the near post from an angle which was not so much acute as non-existent.

Another injury blow greeted the resumption, with skipper Marius Zaliukas being replaced by Jamie Hamill. But it was one man who had returned from injury woes who grabbed the headlines. Andrew Driver's first goal since March 2010 arrived when the England-born Scotland hopeful ran on to a lay-off from Sutton to strike a sweet finish into the top corner with his right foot.

Paksi kept Hearts honest. The strong-running Bode, in particular, could have had a hat trick had he not found Kello in such excellent form. The finish he tugged wide at the start of the second half might have changed a few things, but we were well into consolation goal territory by the time he forced the Slovakian to expertly tip his header on to the bar, then produce an even better save from a one-to-one.

Instead, the next goal arrived at the other end. David Templeton lashed in a shot which Mister Csernyanszky could only parry straight out, and substitute Rudi Skacel celebrated his new deal at the club by prodding in number four. Bode finally got that consolation, heading in Tibor Heffler's cross with just one minute left to play.

Anyone expecting outcry or protest from the home areas about the affair was thoroughly disabused of the notion. The most worked up the home fans got all night was when Sergio betrayed a lack of local knowledge and failed to pick up his cue when they sang "Paulo, gie's a wave". He got the hang of it by the end. He might as well have been waving goodbye to the Jefferies era.

Taken from the Herald

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