London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Daily Record ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Craig Levein <-auth Gary Ralston auth-> Tonny Kolbech Poulsen
[D Kuyt 22] ;[B Goor 58] ;[D Kuyt 83]
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Feyenoord 3 v 0 Hearts

By Gary Ralston

HEARTS were the victims of blatant injustice last night as two dodgy Danes made a mockery of UEFA's Fair Play policy.

Assistant referees Jens Larsen and Bo Blankholm Pedersen robbed Hearts of the chance of a result in their UEFA Cup Group A opener when they made two of the worst decisions this tournament will see all season.

The Scandinavians wore yellow shirts to cover yellow bellies as one failed to flag for Dirk Kuijt's opener on 21 minutes and the other chopped off a valid equaliser from Kevin McKenna nine minutes before the break.

Ultimately, there was no hiding the gulf in class between the teams in the De Kuip Stadium, a grand old ground that sits on the banks of Rotterdam's main waterway.

Dutch international striker Kuijt added a second late on after midfielder Bart Goor had killed the resistance of Hearts after the interval with a crucial second.

But Hearts,facing an enormous task against the Dutch league leaders anyway, were denied the competence of officials that teams should take for granted at this level.

There's an old saying that Rotterdam department stores sell shirts with the sleeves already rolled up in this dock town and Hearts, cheered on by 2500 travelling fans, were not found wanting in effort.

Sure, Feyenoord created enough chances to win this game even without the help of the Danes.

But the psychological damage inflicted by the ref Tonny Poulsen and his two assistants was real enough for Jambos boss Craig Levein to wait at the side of the to pich at the end of the game to lambast the whistler for the performance of his compatriots.

Hearts were dealt a devastating double blow when Mark de Vries and Phil Stamp were ruled out of the starting line-up through injury and illness.

De Vries, who was set to be watched in his homeland by 40 family and friends, did not even stay for the game.

He jetted back to Scotland in the afternoon for further tests on his troublesome toe injury ahead of Sunday's Edinburgh derby.

The teams came out to a red and white ticker-tape reception but the atmosphere in the stadium was far from intimidating and the Hearts supporters were every bit as loud as the home crowd.

Mind you, the Jambos were almost stunned after only 30 seconds when dangermen Kuijt and Salomon Kalou showed why they are one of the most exciting young strike partnerships in European football.

They combined at the edge of the Hearts box and Kuijt, scorer of seven goals already this season in the Dutch League, unleashed a 20-yard shot that was well held by Gordon.

The Jambos were living dangerously and Steven Pressley did well to divert a goalbound shot from Dutch skipper Patrick Paauwe behind for a corner.

Then Japanese playmaker Shinji Ono fired the ball over from the edge of the penalty area. Hearts' defence were strung out in more ways than one along their own 18-yard box and it looked to be only a matter of time before Feyenoord took advantage.

They almost snatched the opener in 19 minutes when a through-ball from Bruno Basto caught out Robbie Neilson and although Kuijt rounded Gordon, Andy Webster got back to clear off the line.

But the inevitable was delayed only two minutes, although Levein's side were the victims of an appalling injustice from the far side linesman.

Hearts failed to clear a corner and when the ball was played back out to the right-hand side, Pauuwe threw over a cross to the back post.

There, full-back Karim Saidi was standing active and at least three yards offside. Incredibly, the Danish official failed to raise his flag for the offence.

And Kuijt, who had timed a perfect run from an onside position, guided his header across Gordon into the far corner of the net.

Hearts were hanging on and with McKenna increasingly exposed in the solo striker's role they were struggling to relieve the pressure on their overworked defence.

There was a glimpse of a chance when Pauuwe and keeper Gabor Babos failed to communicate over a hopeful through-ball but it was scrambled clear with McKenna waiting to pounce.

At the other end, Kuijt almost added a second when he darted clear after a flick from Romeo Castelen had flat-footed the Hearts defence but the Dutch wonderkid fired his shot well wide of Gordon's right-hand post. Kalou was inspiring,his darting runs forcing Webster and then Pressley into clumsy challenges that earned them yellow cards.

They were justified but the treatment of Hearts from the referee's assistant was not.

To add insult to injury after the controversial opener, the Jambos were then denied an equaliser on 36 minutes that proved it was not only the shirts of the officials that were yellow - - so were their bellies.

Joe Hamill wriggled free at the edge of the box and poked the ball out wide to McKenna, who was standing at least two yards onside.

He took a touch and drilled a low shot under Babos but shamefully the flag was raised and the goal discounted.

Paul Hartley was standing two yards offside in the centre of the box but was inactive, actually walking out of the box, and his presence should have been ignored.

So much for UEFA Fair Play, although Feyenoord were admittedly a class apart and only carelessness in front of goal prevented them going in at half-time with a more comfortable lead.

Kalou again went close when he was sent racing clear of the Jambos rearguard and although he got his shot off the presence of Gordon, who had rushed to the edge of his box,was enough to put him off and the ball dropped wide.

Hearts clearly had to make a change and Levein threw on Graham Weir five minutes before the interval for Neil MacFarlane as his team tried to impose themselves further up the field.

Hearts, so apprehensive in the first half, were more aggressive in the second as they reverted to their favoured 4-4-2 formation. They were playing further up the field but any hopes they held of a comeback evaporated in 58 minutes when Feyenoord added a second.

Kalou dropped deep in midfield, brilliantly spun his marker and sent an inch-perfect pass through for Bart Goor to shake off the challenge of Neilson and clip the ball over the advancing Gordon.

Goor is hammer of the Scots, with the Belgian's strike in the 2-0 win over national team at the Heysel Stadium three years ago ending our chances of qualifying for the World Cup finals in 2002.

He almost poked home a third minutes later when he latched on to a Kalou cross but his effort was saved by Gordon.

It was Kalou's last involvement as he was substituted moments later, along with Bruno Basto, as Ruud Gullit gave a run out to his fringe men, clearly believing the game was won.

Levein had nothing to lose and threw on striker Dennis Wyness for full-back Jamie McAllister with 20 minutes remaining.

However, it was Feyenoord who went close to scoring again in 75 minutes when Kuijt pulled down a cross in the box and fired in a shot from nine yards that Gordon brilliantly touched over.

Hamill almost volleyed Hearts back into the game late on with a left-foot drive from the edge of the box as the Feyenoord defence struggled to clear but his effort flashed inches wide.

Then Feyenoord underlined their superiority seven minutes from time with a third.

Kuijt slipped between hesitant Hearts defenders to knock a Goor cross from the left past the flat-footed Gordon.

Taken from the Daily Record

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