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<-Srce <-Type Daily Record ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Valdas Ivanauskas <-auth Greig Thomas auth-> Peter Sippel
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By Greig Thomas

CRAIG GORDONinsists Hearts can send Sparta Prague crashing out of the UEFA Cup tonight with their fourth victory in a row.

Since slumping to a 2-0 defeat to the Czechs in the first-round first-leg tie at Murrayfield a fortnight ago, SPL wins at Motherwell and Aberdeen have sandwiched a convincing 4-0 CIS Cup triumph at Alloa.

And with the confidence those victories have brought to the Tynecastle side, Scotland No.1 Gordon believes Hearts can upset the odds by winning through to the group stage.

He said: "We have to be confident, we are coming off the back of three straight wins and will be trying to extend that run.

"We know it is going to be difficult, it is a hard place to go but we are feeling confident.

"Our recent form has given us hope. We have started to come into a bit of form and we showed in the 3-1 win at Aberdeen on Sunday we are capable of scoring goals away from home.

"A similar scoreline in Prague would be enough to take us through. We know we will be under pressure at times, it will be a similar game to the one against Aberdeen.

"We'll have to soak up a bit of pressure and hit them on the break. We will have to take our chances. We might only get a few but they will have to find the back of the net.

"There is a big onus on us to take the game to them but it is a challenge we are looking forward to."

Pressure Gordon insists the Jambos cannot afford to lose the first goal.

He said: "If they can get one or two goals that will totally finish the tie, so we have to put pressure on them.

"As it stands, there is not too much pressure on them, but, if we get the first goal, hat could all change."

The 23-year-old is also determined not to see the hard work of last season undone before the end of September.

Hearts' hopes of a place among the European elite in the lucrative group stage ended with defeat by AEK Athens at the final hurdle.

Now, after Daniel Kolar and Miroslav Matusovic gave Sparta a two-goal cushion, Hearts are on the verge of missing out on the UEFA Cup group stage.

Gordon said: "It is important we get through this round.

"We worked so hard last season to get into a position where we achieved European football and, hopefully, we can extend that beyond this tie.

"If we manage to qualify it would be a tremendous achievement after what we have had to go through so far. It is going to be a long season and you do not always pick up the points you deserve.

"We have not been playing too badly, it was a case of getting the results together.

"But we have had a bit of luck in the last few games and have managed to get a run going, so, hopefully, we can continue that."


HEARTS defender Takis Fyssas misses out against Sparta Prague tonight.

The Greece international has not recovered from the back injury which kept him out ofthe weekend win at Aberdeen.

Striker Edgaras Jankauskas and midfielder Andrew Driver also remain sidelined and winger Neil McCann is suspended.

The Jambos are bidding to claw back a 2-0 deficit from the first leg at Murrayfield.

Provisional squad: Gordon, Tall, Pressley, Berra, Wallace, Mikoliunas, Zaliukas, Hartley, Beslija, Bednar, Pinilla, Brellier, Cesnauskis, M akela, Banks, Neilson, Aguiar, Mole.

Taken from the Daily Record

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