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Craig Levein <-auth Gary Ralston auth-> Tonny Kolbech Poulsen
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Levein raging after double cock-up sinks Jambos

By Gary Ralston

HEARTS boss Craig Levein last night pointed the finger at the blundering officials who denied his side a chance in Holland.

The Jambos slumped to a 3-0 defeat against Dutch league leaders Feyenoord in the opening match of their UEFA Cup group.

Levein admitted the Rotterdam outfit merited their victory in the De Kuip Stadium, thanks to a double from international hitman Dirk Kuijt either side of a strike from Belgian midfielder Bart Goor.

But he was furious with the decisions that cost his side the chance to make it more of a contest.

Danish officials Jens Larsen and Bo Blankholm Pedersen failed to flag for offside at the Feyenoord opener, then ruled out a perfectly good striker from Kevin McKenna shortly before half-time that would have given the Jambos an equaliser.

Levein confronted whistler Tonny Poulsen at the side of the pitch on the final whistle and told him to have words with his two ropey assistants.

Levein said: 'I asked the referee to watch it again on television and acknowledge his linesmen made mistakes.

Decisions 'To take even a point from as difficult a task as this one we required most of the referee's decisions to go in our favour.

'Their first goal was definitely offside and ours was clearly onside and those decisions can clearly make a difference.

'I don't know if it would have made a difference to the match but it's annoying to know a perfectly good goal was chalked off when theirs was offside.

'In that respect we're all a little disappointed with the referee. It's easy to prepare yourself for the quality of opposition but it's not so easy to prepare yourself for the quality of the officials.

'I've no complaints except for the couple of decisions that didn't go our way.

'There's no doubt Feyenoord deserved to win the match and we knew when the draw was made this would be our toughest task.'

Feyenoord boss Ruud Gullit admitted Hearts were on the wrong end of rough justice but claimed the officials were just as bad for his side. He said: 'I understand their frustration but Salomon Kalou scored a goal before our opener that television proved should not have been disallowed for offside.

'Sometimes you get the decisions, sometimes you don't. Overall, we played a better game than Hearts.'

Gullit praised his side for refusing to be drawn into a physical battle with Hearts that he knew his team would lose.

He said: 'It was important we won the second ball in and around the penalty box.

'I was afraid before the match that my side would be drawn into a Scottish game but they were not, and for that I'm very pleased.

'It was a good result and it was important we started this section with a win at home. Although my defenders played well and gave us a platform to build from the back, it was also important we did the business further up the field and in that respect Dirk Kuijt was very important for us.

'He showed just why he is one of the best young attackers in the country.'

The former Chelsea and Newcastle boss also held out qualification crumbs of comfort for the Jambos, who next play Schalke 04 at Murrayfield on November 4.

He added: 'I haven't seen many of the teams in our section in action yet but I saw enough in stages from Hearts to suggest they can still go through from this group.'

Hearts boss Levein admitted he could ask for no more from his players, who must now raise themselves for Sunday's Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.

Levein said: 'I said before the match we would work extremely hard and we did that against a quality side. Their second goal shortly after the interval came at a time when we were doing reasonably well in the game but I was given everything my players had to offer.

'I never expected an easy night here and it's disappointing to lose but we knew it would be an extremely tough task to take evena point from the match.'

Hearts were without influential striker Mark de Vries and midfielder Phil Stamp and both now face a race to be fit for Sunday's derby.

Levein added: 'We sent Mark home this morning to hospital for further treatment on his poisoned toe with one eye on Sunday. He might have made a difference tonight.

'Phil had a sickness problem the night before the game and still felt ill so we had to leave him out.'

Taken from the Daily Record

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