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Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth auth-> Mattias Gestranius
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Europa League: Paksi 1 Hearts 1

Jul 29 2011

Jamie Hamill of Hearts scores penalty against Paksi jamie hamill of hearts scores penalty against paksi

HEARTS' Euro passport has room for more foreign stamps.

And after they earned a score draw against Paksi last night the Jambos have every chance of progressing to the Europa League play-offs.

The trip to Hungary has been overshadowed by David Obua's farcical attempts to be here.

But after unravelling the red tape that stranded him at the airport for six hours, the Ugandan finally made it on to Jim Jefferies' teamsheet and took part in an impressive display.

Despite going behind to Istvan Sipeki's goal against the run of play, Hearts fought back and deservedly made it 1-1 thanks to Jamie Hamill's penalty on his competitive debut.

After dominating most of the match the Jambos could have scored more and will feel they can see off Paksi next week at Tynecastle.

The Hungarians' tiny ground isn't up to UEFA standards so they were forced to play at the home of rivals Videoton. Karoly Kis' men played there just five days ago in the league and were hammered 4-0. Hearts, on the other hand, were bursting with confidence after their draw with Rangers.

Jefferies had to do without injured Andy Webster and Mehdi Taouil, replacing them with Adrian Mrowiec and summer signing Hamill.

But his major decision was whether to play Ibrox goal hero Obua after his visa problems.

But Jefferies took a gamble on the midfielder and it paid off with a favourable result to take back to Gorgie next Thursday. This was the Hearts boss' first game on foreign soil for 11 years when, in his last spell at Tynecastle, he lost out on away goals to Germans Stuttgart.

Paksi were embarking on their first Euro adventure but, after knocking out Tromso in the last round, they posed an intriguing threat to the Jambos' hopes.

About 400 Scots fans bought bargain-price £4.50 tickets for the match and saw their side carve out a decent chance after just four minutes.

Danny Grainger's surging run down the left produced a brilliant cross but lone striker John Sutton failed to connect with his header and glanced it wide.

The big frontman was occupying both Paksi centre-backs with his physical presence and didn't need to touch the ball to create Hearts' next sight of goal.

As the defence concentrated on Sutton they allowed a loose ball in behind them and Obua fired a dipping shot over the bar.

Hamill was next to try his luck from distance but Paksi keeper Norbert Csernyanszki smothered his long-range drive.

It's always dangerous when a Scottish team looks comfortable in a European tie but the Jambos dominated possession and were rarely troubled at the back.

But, as it always seems with SPL clubs on the continent, Jefferies' men were hit with a sucker punch after 33 minutes.

Laszlo Bartha had a pot-shot blocked by Eggert Jonsson on the edge of the box but Sipeki reacted to loft a super lob over the advancing Marian Kello.

Picking the ball out of the net was the Slovakian keeper's first touch of the ball in a half bossed by Hearts and Jefferies must have been raging at his side falling behind.

But they were thrown a lifeline in first-half injury time in the shape of Hamill's penalty.

Sutton was man-handled in the box by defender Tibor Heffler and Finnish referee Mattias Gestranius pointed to the spot - to the disgust of Paksi's players and Kis who directed his anger at the Jambos dugout.

That didn't bother new boy Hamill, though, as he buried his kick beyond Csernyanszki to bag a vital away goal.

There was barely time to restart the game and whistler Gestranius faced a torrent of abuse - and some plastic cups - from the home crowd as he walked up the tunnel at the break.

Winger David Templeton was trying to torment Paksi's defence and just after half-time his fizzed cross almost deceived Csernyanszki. Paksi knew they needed another goal. Heffler was free in the box and just about to pull the trigger when Jambos skipper Marius Zaliukas made a cracking block.

But it was still Hearts who looked more likely to net a winner and in 68 minutes a golden chance was passed up. Zaliukas bombed forward and his cross was flicked by Templeton on to Hamill.

The former Kilmarnock star's shot was parried by Csernyanszki but Sutton couldn't convert the rebound from four yards and headed over to the agony of the Jambos fans behind the goal.

Tamas Sifter forced Kello into a good save from a corner and Gabor Vayer fired wide from a free-kick.

Then a stroke of bad luck for Ryan Stevenson who had replaced Sutton with 12 minutes left and was carried off injured.

But Hearts remained solid and confidence is high for next week.

Taken from the Daily Record

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