GUARDIAN – Heart of Midlothian v Liverpool – as it happened | Scott Murray

A late own goal gifted Liverpool victory at TynecastleJust over a year ago, Heart of Midlothian trooped out of the Tynecastle tunnel for their biggest European match since facing Bayern Munich in the quarter finals of the 1989 Uefa Cup. It was a Europa League qualifier against Tottenham Hotspur, and within 13 minutes they were two goals down. The game ended 5-0. Ah well.But after waiting 13 years for a chance to prove themselves on the big stage, another’s come along for Hearts in… well, one-thirteenth of the time. Tonight they take on Liverpool, one of these here Battles of Britain, and an opportunity to claw back a bit of cross-border dignity. Can they give the English favourites a metaphorical smack in the mouth? Or will Brendan Rodgers’ work in progress deliver the Edinburgh giants a figurative toe-punt in the stones?Heart of Midlothian, who threw away a two-goal lead against Inverness Caley Thistle at the weekend: MacDonald, Ryan McGowan, Webster, Zaliukas, Grainger, Paterson, Barr, Taouil, Novikovas, Templeton, Sutton.Subs: Enckelman, Robinson, Driver, Gordon Smith, Dylan McGowan, McHattie, Carrick.Liverpool, who were getting walloped at West Bromwich Albion while Hearts were losing the place here: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Agger, Robinson, Henderson, Adam, Spearing, Shelvey, Borini, Sterling.Subs: Jones, Coates, Downing, Lucas, Allen, Flanagan, Morgan.Referee: Florian Meyer (Germany)The reason for Andy Carroll’s absence: He is off to Newcastle United in a £43.71 deal felt a slight twinge in his hamstring yesterday morning. Ooyah, oof, that nips. Nothing serious, insists Brendan Rodgers, and in any case he’s perfectly happy to field Fabio Borini and stick 18-year-old Adam Morgan on the bench.The teams are out! Hearts take to the field in their fancy new white away kit. Liverpool are in their fancy new black away kit. None of this is right, is it? “Your reference to Hearts last having a decent run in Europe 13 years ago got me thinking about a text I received from a mate earlier today,” begins Adam Harper. “Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine are playing Brixton Academy later this year, with support from Cud and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, a bill that wouldn’t have looked out of place in 1989. Prior to today I might have thought that bill as unlikely in 2012 as Hearts making a good fist of things with the Europa League. As a LFC fan I’m hoping it isn’t some sort of bizarre omen.”And we’re off! Liverpool set the ball rolling, and immediately punt it forward into the arms of new dad MacDonald. So much for that all-new possession game.2 min: Sterling goes on a skedaddle down the left, but is dispatched into touch by McGowan. From the resulting throw, Adam swings a boot at the ball in the simple style, the white orb sailing dismally into the stand behind.4 min: All a bit shapeless at the moment. Taouil lifts a long ball forward towards Sutton, who wins the header against Carragher but was all elbows in doing so, and is pulled up for a foul. “So tonight we’re going to see Charlie Adam’s unique interpretation of tiki taka?” wonders Phil Sawyer. “As a Liverpool supporter my hopes aren’t high. Unless tiki taka has evolved to somehow get the best out of head down ponderous running at the defence ignoring your team mates before shinning it ten metres wide of goal. Oh, and while I’m here I hope we can put all that talk of me being a crack shot with a rifle during the Olympic coverage behind us. It was, of course, merely harmless #banter and in no way an indication of how things might go if you start being too nasty about my beloved Reds.”5 min: Dear Phil Sawyer, Liverpool are stroking it around like Barcelona. Charlie Adam like a cross between Lionel Messi and a tube of black pudding.7 min: Sorry, Phil, but there goes that Total Football fantasy. Carragher, attempting to play it around the back like Beckenbauer, fluffs a short pass back towards Reina, and is this close to letting Sutton in on goal. Luckily for the Liverpool vice-captain, Reina is quickly out of his area, and cleans up.9 min: With cheap cracks, we have of course ensured Adam has a good game. Here he advances on the Hearts area, and 30 yards out attempts to thread a low shot into the bottom-right corner. It’s a very decent effort from such a long way out, but always covered by MacDonald. However, the keeper can only parry the ball out, allowing Borini to latch onto it and win a corner. Nothing comes of the set piece, though.10 min: A corner for Hearts now, won down the right by Templeton. Liverpool clear, but the ball’s soon coming back at them down the inside-right channel. Novikovas sends a dipping half-volley towards the top-left corner, forcing Reina to back pedal and claw the ball out from under the bar. Great save, but even better attempt. Another corner for Hearts, but nothing’s doing this time.13 min: Hearts were two goals down against Spurs by this point last year, but they look very confident tonight. On the edge of the area, after some useful bustling by Templeton, Sutton spins and sends a low shot just wide left of goal. Agger and Carragher were faffing around quite a bit there. This is promising from the home side.15 min: This is a lovely, open game. Liverpool don’t look particularly confident at the back, attempting as they are to pass the ball upfield in little triangles, as opposed to putting their foot through it. Whenever one of their players does so in a panic, you sense they feel a sense of betrayal. “Matters have already improved for Liverpool as the wretched Downing is not in the team,” opines Lou Roper. “Is there, perhaps, a team in Finland or some other faraway place that might take him on extended loan? If Charlie Adam avoids trying to ‘tackle’, I shall be quite satisfied. Roll on, new broom!”17 min: Hearts are by some distance the better side so far. Templeton, who has been very busy, careers down the inside-left channel before taking an ambitious hoick at the top-right corner. It’s always going wide, but not by that much, and the crowd gasp accordingly. “Many players lose a yard of pace as they enter into the latter stages of their career, but it takes a special effort to contrive to lose it from your passing as well,” writes the super-sharp-shootin’ Phil Sawyer. “Well done Carra! I’m going to have to turn my sights on myself if I carry on like this, aren’t I?”20 min: Liverpool knock it around the middle of the park awhile. They go absolutely nowhere, but after being forced onto the back foot for the last ten minutes or so, you fancy that’s not really the point. “As a supporter of the world-famous Dundee United FC I am in a win-win situation regarding tonight’s game,” writes Simon McMahon. “Either a Scottish team does well and ‘improves the co-efficient’, or I have the satisfaction of seeing a rival well and truly humped at home and suffer a ‘European hangover’ that affects their domestic form. I’m siding towards the latter due to the fact that my own team finished above Hearts in the league last season, who only find themselves in this position due to beating a pub team sometimes known as Hibernian FC in the cup final.”22 min: Spearing sprays a gorgeous diagonal ball out left to release Sterling. The young winger cuts inside, shifting the ball past the full back, and looking to curl one into the bottom-right corner, his trademark move. Webster is out quickly to close the shot down, and the danger is over.24 min: Barr brings down Adam, as the latter looks to bomb down the centre at what he calls pace. It’s a cynical challenge, though whether it’s worthy of the yellow card that’s flourished is a moot point.25 min: McGowan, under pressure from Sterling, is this close to poking the ball into his own net, his panicked passback squirming just wide left of goal. The corner is a waste of time.27 min: McGowan goes on a long-distance sashay down the middle of the park. As he reaches the Liverpool area, he opens his body up to shoot, but manages to tackle himself by stumbling as he does so, and the chance is gone. Liverpool’s back four were back pedalling furiously there, turned around and all at sea, with only Kelly in any sort of position to clear up. I suspect Liverpool are going to let in quite a lot of goals this season as they look to change to an expansive style, more than they’ve been used to during the Houllier-Benitez decade, anyway.29 min: Sterling tries the cutting-in-from-the-left-and-having-a-look-at-the-far-corner-with-the-old-right-peg trick again. It’s not a bad trick, you know. MacDonald parries.31 min: Liverpool are beginning to impose themselves on this game. Henderson feeds the ball down the right to Shelvey, who shuttles it down the channel for Borini. The young Italian looks to get a snapshot goalwards, but his effort is bundled out for a futile corner. Well, that’s Henderson kicked the ball, anyway. He’d been pretty quiet up until then. “I guess that is quite normal,” writes Bryan Tisinger. “I would look up how much Liverpool paid for him compared to what Newcastle paid for Tiote, Ben Arfa, Ba, Cisse, and Cabaye, but then I would be very sick.”33 min: First Charlie Adam attempts to stuff the cheap shots down our throats, now it’s Jordan Henderson, who finds space down the right and curls in a simply majestic pass towards Borini. He’s released the striker into the area, splitting the Hearts back line into small pieces, but Borini leans back and misses his kick altogether. Pass of the match. Followed by fresh-air shot of the match.37 min: It’s not a good game, it’s not a bad game. The teams are at least trying to play some football; they’re just not making much of a fist of it.39 min: Borini looks to zip clear down the inside-left channel, latching onto a clumpish misplaced backpass by Taouil. Inexplicably, the linesman raises his flag for offside. Borini waves his hands around in the stereotypical fashion.41 min: Hearts have been quiet, with Tynecastle sinking into a similar funk, but everyone wakes up pretty damn quickly when Templeton has a sudden lash from the inside-right channel. His belt isn’t far over the bar, close enough to have seen Reina scamper across his line.42 min: A penalty shout for Hearts as a Webster header clanks off Carragher’s back. Nope.43 min: Borini bustles down the right and wins a corner. Hearts clear, but Adam is soon coming back at them, dancing down the right and hammering a low shot towards the bottom-left corner. It’s hacked out for a second corner in quick succession, but this one goes nowhere.45 min: Taouil rakes an absolutely useless crossfield pass towards the Liverpool left wing. Sterling, at speed, steals off with the ball brilliantly, and tears down the inside-left channel. It’s two on one. Sterling rolls an unselfish pass inside to Borini, who should score, but belts a powerful effort off the right-hand post. The ball clanks miles back upfield. Hearts survive. Somehow.HALF TIME: Heart of Midlothian 0-0 Liverpool. And that’s that for the first 45 minutes. Hearts leave the pitch lucky not to have conceded at the death, Borini trudging off instead with his head in his hands, but on balance the home side deserve to be on terms.HALF-TIME GOLF: A new feature: football clubs as golfers, brought to you by Simon McMahon. “Liverpool FC – Tom Watson, hugely successful in the 70s and 80s, now living off past glories, can show glimpses of past form but still carry significant public affection. Hearts – Greg Norman, occasionally brilliant with a few notable successes but best remembered for what they didn’t win.” So where are we going with Rangers? Ian Baker-Finch?And we’re off again! The teams take to the pitch as the crowd sing along to Hey Jude. They’re belting it out. Unlike latter-day Paul McCartney, they don’t attempt to crowbar the na-na-nas into a 15/8 time signature. The ball’s rolling again, Hearts having applied the necessary force.47 min: Hearts are obviously of the opinion that Liverpool are here for the taking, flying into every challenge since the restart. They’re closing the visitors down with some vigour.49 min: A quiet enough start to this half, though Hearts will be happier with it. Tum te tum. Philosophy, anyone? “In what ways do Liverpool live off past glories?” asks Ian Copestake. “This has been a question that bugs me when this cliche is used. It means nothing. No Liverpool fan can ever mention a previous cup win, or a favourite player from those years?”50 min: Borini’s flagged offside again, and once more he appears to be slightly unlucky, springing clear down the inside-right channel but being hauled back by the officials.53 min: Sterling pounds (yeah) down the left wing, and diddles his way to the byline, winning a corner that’s wasted. A lovely run, though, by a very promising young player.54 min: Sterling and Borini exchange a one-two down the inside-left channel. Sterling is inches from getting a shot away in the area, but MacDonald is out quickly to smother. Sterling claims he’s been clipped as he chases the ball, but the referee is having none of it. “Newcastle are, of course, Sergio,” writes the ever-correct Gary Naylor. “Inspiring love and hollow laughter to taste, but never won anything of note and never likely to either.”56 min: Under pressure from the bustling Sutton, Agger heads clear dismally. Paterson latches onto the bouncing ball and, down the inside-right channel, heads into the area before hammering a shot from a tight angle over the bar. Marco van Basten would have struggled to score from there, but a decent effort nonetheless. The Hearts faithful raise the volume in response.59 min: Novikovas had one mighty dig in the first half, and now he has another, fighting his way in from the right and unleashing a superlative effort which flies over the bar from 25 feet. The crowd are giving it plenty now.62 min: Robinson is replaced by Downing. A straight swap! He’ll be playing at left back! Well, they’ve tried him everywhere else, I suppose.65 min: Webster gives Borini a bang on the coccyx. Meanwhile a tug of love is developing over Sergio Garcia, as Simon McMahon wants him for Dundee United: “Early promise followed by heart-breaking, but not unexpected, tragi-comic-farce. Hope followed by despair, resignation, anger, forgiveness and then hope again. And love, lots of love.”68 min: Spearing is replaced by Allen.69 min: Adam takes a hack from 25 yards, but the ball deflects off two Hearts backsides, and rolls benignly through to a yawning MacDonald.71 min: McGowan battles into space down the right. It’s a fantastic run, and he’s pulled back cynically by a lumbering Adam, but the Hearts man stays on his feet and powers on anyway, but his eventual cross is way too deep. Novikovas somehow fashions a corner, but nothing comes from it, Shelvey mopping up calmly. Meanwhile here’s an existential cry for help from Niall Mullen: “In league terms at least I live off past Liverpool glories. 22 (twenty two) years! Who knew then that the inspiration behind that win, Ronnie Rosenthal, would become a byword for terrible misses? That the manager would soon resign only to return to the club 20 years later and almost completely expunge his deeds with one season of almost comical mismanagement? That club legend Graeme Souness would manage the club into a pit that would take nearly a decade to crawl out of? That the club would run through more managers than Liz Taylor husbands? That they would eventually be owned by not one but two lots of avaristic Yank plutocrats? If I’d known all of that at the time maybe the 11 year old me would have chased girls instead of following football. Anyone know where I can get a time-travel-enabled De Lorean?”74 min: Liverpool spend a couple of minutes stroking it around the back. Some of their players look more comfortable doing so than others. But Hearts are perfectly happy with this, and whenever they do get the ball, Sutton is causing Carragher and Agger all sorts of problems.78 min: GOAL! Heart of Midlothian 0-1 Liverpool. This came out of nothing. Allen sprays the ball out right to Kelly, who, shoulders held high, bombs down the wing like Ted McMinn. His low cross looks for Borini, racing towards the six-yard box, but Webster beats him to it and turns the ball past his own keeper. So unfortunate. If he hadn’t got there first, the Liverpool striker would probably have converted anyway, so what can you do.79 min: Driver comes on for Templeton.82 min: That’s deflated Tynecastle somewhat. Can Hearts respond? They’ve made Liverpool, supposed clear favourites, look uncomfortable on several occasions this evening, so it’s far from a pipe dream. Meanwhile here’s Sir Richard, and he’s three in the hole: “Chelsea are Stewart Cink, taking all the romance out of the game. Everton are Miguel Angel Jimenez, always around the place, great fun to watch, never win the big one. Blackburn are Ben Curtis. One glorious victory then real life took over.:84 min: Coming in from the left, Sterling looks for the top right, but gets too much purchase on his lofted wedge of a shot. “If we are talking past glories, they don’t have to be from 20 years ago,” sighs Graeme Neill. “I’d give anything to have a midfield pairing of Mascherano and Alonso rather than Jay Spearing and Charlie Adam.”86 min: Allen romps into the Hearts half, eating up the yards before sliding a pass out wide left to Sterling. The young winger scampers across the face of the Hearts box, before checking back and looking to thread a low fizzer into the bottom-left corner. It’s a weak and tired effort, though. Hearts, who have been staunch, don’t deserve to be on the end of a two-goal defeat. “Can Everton be Johnny Miller, albeit 10 years later?” pleads Gary Naylor. “Looked like winning everything for about four years, then didn’t.”88 min: Two changes for Hearts: Novikovas and Barr off, Carrick and Robinson on. A loose ball in the Liverpool area. Driver swivels, and gets a shot away from the penalty spot, but can’t get any power in his effort, and Reina smothers it like a wet blanket.90 min: A loose ball in the midfield. Charlie Adam runs away from it. That is preposterous. And nearly so costly. Paterson latches onto a ball falling near the right-hand corner of the Liverpool area – and volleys a stupendous effort towards the bottom-left corner. It’s flying in, and Reina – who hasn’t had the busiest of evenings – is sharp enough to parry it clear at full stretch. That’s great football all round, except for the bit involving Adam. Meanwhile here’s our Arab pal Simon McMahon: “Dundee FC – Maurice Flitcroft.”90 min +1: There will be three added minutes. One’s already elapsed.90 min +2: Borini, who has settled in well at Liverpool already, picking up the woodwork habit, is replaced by Morgan.FULL TIME: Heart of Midlothian 0-1 Liverpool. And that’s that for the evening. Just about the right result on the balance of play, but Hearts put in a shift, and made Liverpool work for everything. On another night, you never know. Maybe if Novikovas’s early effort had found the top-left corner… but as it is, Liverpool remain hot favourites to make the group stages of the Europa League.Europa League 2012-13 qualifiersHeartsLiverpoolEuropa LeagueScott Murrayguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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TAO – View from the Opposition: Heart of Midlothian

By Robert Nevitt Liverpool travel to Edinburgh on Thursday night to face Hearts in the first leg of the Europa League Qualifier. In preparation, we spoke to Laurie Dunsire, editor of Paint the Town Maroon, a website dedicated to Hearts, and writer for the official Hearts matchday programme. Scottish football has hit the headlines this summer due to the financial problems at Rangers. But, you have seen your fair share of debt-related problems at Hearts in recent years. What is the current situation at Tynecastle? We’ve had some serious financial problems at Tynecastle in recent times. Last season there was a lot of controversy surrounding the club, and our eccentric owner Vladimir Romanov, when players’ wages were repeatedly paid late, at times delayed by up to a month. The reality is that we’ve spent well outwith our means for too long under Romanov, in an attempt to challenge the Old Firm dominance of Scottish football. We experienced a certain degree of success, finishing 2nd and qualifying for the Champions League in 2006, as well as bringing home two pieces of silverware in the last 6 years. But we’ve cut back this campaign, severely. Our wage bill has been dramatically reduced, with our squad being one of the youngest in the SPL. We played more graduates from our youth system on the opening day of the season than any other club, which is a positive step. But it also means we may experience a transitional phase on the park. To qualify for the Europa League, you beat fierce Edinburgh rivals Hibernian 5-1 in the Scottish Cup final. Does football get any better than that? Quite simply, no it doesn’t. The game at Hampden Park on the 19th May was the best day I have ever experienced as a Hearts fan and it will probably never be eclipsed. I’m sure you can imagine the feeling if Liverpool put 5 goals past Everton in an FA Cup final – it would be pretty memorable for you guys! To be honest we have a ridiculously dominant derby record against Hibs, so many people were not surprised by the result in the final. But it was the perfect chance for Hibs to make all of our previous wins seem pretty insignificant. Thankfully, we still have the upper hand on them, by a fair distance, and no matter how many times they may beat us in the coming years, it will take a similar result, on an equally important occasion, to ever live down our famous victory. This will be Liverpool’s first ever competitive meeting with Hearts. Are the Jambos faithful looking forward to welcoming Brendan Rodgers’ men? There is a real buzz about the city, excitement has been growing among the Hearts faithful ever since the draw was made. For us it’s mainly about the occasion, we have nothing to lose really. As the Tottenham game showed last year, the gulf is immense between top English sides and our own teams north of the border. Of course anything can happen, football has sprung bigger surprises in the past than Hearts beating Liverpool. But any sort of result for the Jambos would be a bonus. Personally I am just going to enjoy the atmosphere and the rare chance to see a club of Liverpool’s stature playing at my beloved Tynecastle. The Scottish League started two weeks earlier than it’s English counterpart. How has Hearts’ start been? It’s been a mixed start really. On the plus side we are still unbeaten after three matches, but I’ve not been overly impressed with our performances. That said, we have a lot of younger players in the team and there is very little squad depth, so I think the fans, including myself, will have to show some patience. We defeated St Johnstone on the opening day 2-0, before drawing with Hibs 1-1 in the Edinburgh derby. Our last game, on Saturday, was probably the most disappointing though. We were leading 2-0 against Inverness, at home, facing ten men. Somehow we capitulated and managed to throw away 2 points, succumbing to an injury time equaliser. The lads will really have to up their game if they want to even compete with Liverpool on Thursday. The likes of Dave McPherson, Neil McCann, current Scotland boss Craig Levein and goal machine John Robertson have all starred for Hearts in the past. Which of the current crop are capable of causing Liverpool the most problems? Ahhhh, mentioning some great names of the past – such a tease! We have very few players in the current team even close to the calibre of the men you mention, although there are still a couple of talented individuals. In terms of danger men for you guys, David Templeton is probably the most likely man to cause any problems for the Liverpool rearguard. He’s a tricky winger, who loves to get the ball down and run at defenders. We generally deploy him on the left wing, so that he can cut inside onto his more favoured right foot. Our attack will be lead by lone striker John Sutton, who is the younger brother of former Blackburn, Chelsea and Celtic forward Chris Sutton. He’s certainly not the fastest, but he’s strong and good in the air. Whether he gets a sniff at goal against Liverpool is another matter entirely! In terms of keeping out your attack, which I imagine will be our biggest challenge, Scotland international Andy Webster is arguably our best defender. He played down South previously, for Wigan Athletic, and rumour has it that a number of English clubs are currently interested in signing him. He is an imposing figure at the back, very strong, powerful in the air and a good reader of the game. If Andy Carroll starts then Webster will probably be given the task of marking him. A big forward would probably suit him if I’m honest, as he doesn’t possess much pace. I’d be worried that the likes of Suarez could really cause him problems. And which Liverpool players are you most worried about facing? Where do I begin? All of them! Seriously though, it depends what sort of side Liverpool put out. I know you have a massive game with Manchester City on Sunday, which will surely take centre stage for Rodgers. In saying that, a good win on Thursday might be the confidence boost that your side needs after the disappointing result against West Brom, so maybe he’ll go with a strong side? Tottenham approached the match at Tynecastle last season with a team to completely kill the tie in the first leg, allowing them to rest faces in the return game, which is an approach I fear Rodgers might take as well. Suarez is a player I’m very concerned about, especially after his poor finishing at the Hawthorns. He’ll be hungry to prove his doubters wrong and if he is on his game then Hearts could really feel the brunt of that. Steven Gerrard is a magnificent midfielder, someone who I’m really looking forward to seeing in the flesh. If these two players are involved on Thursday, then they’d be the two I’d be most worried about from a Hearts perspective. In saying that, Andy Carroll may also have a point to prove if given a chance, so he’s another player to keep an eye on. Finally, can we get a prediction for the game and the tie as a whole? My head says we will get absolutely thumped, my heart says we will keep the score down! I don’t want to appear too negative, but the reality of the situation is that there is a huge gulf between the two sides – Steven Gerrard earns far more than the entire Hearts team combined! Liverpool may not be the force they once were, but they are still on a different planet quality wise to Hearts. I just hope we can be more competitive than we were against Spurs last year. We were outclassed, undoubtedly, but the most disappointing thing was we didn’t perform to the best of our ability on the night. If our players give their all for 90 minutes and lose 4-0, I won’t hold it against them. I’m going to be mildly optimistic though and give us a goal. C’mon, you’ve got to give us a small amount of joy surely! 3-1 Liverpool. Yes, that’s me being optimistic! You can follow Laurie on twitter @PaintItMaroon or @LaurieDunsire

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