RFS 0-2 Hearts: Scottish facet get first Europa Convention League win

Lawrence Shankland scores from the spot for Hearts
Lawrence Shankland’s penalty put Hearts in entrance earlier than the break

Hearts received an entertaining contest with RFS of Latvia as they kickstarted their Europa Convention League marketing campaign.

Lawrence Shankland’s first-half penalty put them forward earlier than the break, and Alan Forrest’s strike in stoppage time sealed victory.

Hearts had goalkeeper Craig Gordon to thank at factors, particularly for tipping one effort on to the woodwork.

Additionally they handed up good probabilities so as to add to their tally – together with Shankland lacking an empty internet.

Ultimately it didn’t matter as Hearts transfer second in Group A behind Istanbul Basaksehir – who defeated Fiorentina 3-0 – as Robbie Neilson’s facet put together to face the Serie A membership house and away subsequent.

The win in Riga retains some hope of development alive for injury-hit Hearts, who had been handed a sixth defeat in seven video games by Basaksehir final week when the Turkish facet left Edinburgh with a 4-0 win.

On condition that show, this was a must-win sport for Neilson and his squad and at numerous phases of the primary half they appeared rattled, particularly when centre-back Craig Halkett limped off 20 minutes into his return from damage.

RFS – final season’s champions of Latvia who earned a shock attract Florence of their opening match – hit the woodwork after two minutes when Gordon was at his acrobatic greatest to tip Emerson’s shot onto the woodwork.

And the Hearts keeper pulled off one other two stops in fast succession to maintain his facet in entrance simply earlier than half-time.

However Hearts had been equally as harmful in spells earlier than the break, and had the higher of the second-half with out exerting complete management all through.

By that time Shankland had emphatically stroked his penalty into the highest nook after Elvis Stuglis blocked Andy Halliday’s cross along with his arm, and missed an open objective on the stretch when Josh Ginnelly barely overhit his cross throughout the six-yard field.

Nonetheless, Hearts did greater than sufficient to earn a tough victory, their first in European group stage soccer for 18 years, and made certain of it when Cammy Devlin broke free on the finish earlier than teeing up Forrest to fit house.

Participant of the match – Andy Halliday

Andy Halliday
Halliday was relentless in breaking apart play, whereas additionally moving into the RFS field. An all-round midfield efficiency

Hearts get reward for attacking intent – evaluation

Neilson switched to a again 4 for this match, and signalled his intent to make use of Barrie McKay and Josh Ginnelly to trigger issues with their direct dribbling.

It was the correct strategy towards an inferior crew, albeit one with a latest historical past of shocks. It paid off, too, with McKay’s unbelievable contact and driving run instrumental within the lead as much as the penalty, whereas Ginnelly was vigorous.

Halliday was additionally keen to drive ahead from midfield and had a number of alternatives to attain.

The dedication to pour extra our bodies ahead clearly got here with threat, however Hearts nonetheless conceded extra probabilities than they might have favored, with Gordon rescuing them on a few events.

One gamble which didn’t come off was the choice to play Halkett, whose hamstring did not maintain up for even half an hour.

His absence has been harshly felt amid an extended damage record, and some extra weeks out might do extra harm to the crew in the long term.

General, although, Hearts appeared to swell in confidence because the match progressed and with a struggling Fiorentina to go to Tynecastle subsequent, the dream of qualification for the last-16 stays alive.

What’s subsequent?

Hearts are away to Motherwell within the Scottish Premiership on Sunday (15:00 BST) earlier than membership soccer halts for the worldwide break.

Line-ups

Rigas Futbola Skola

Formation 3-4-3

  • 12Steinbors
  • 92JagodinskisBooked at 42mins
  • 21Stuglis
  • 43Lipuscek
  • 66VlalukinSubstituted forSorokinsat 58′minutes
  • 28PanicBooked at 80mins
  • 24Saric
  • 25MaresBooked at 52mins
  • 81SimkovicBooked at 45minsSubstituted forFriesenbichlerat 59′minutes
  • 19Ilic
  • 9Santana Deocleciano

Substitutes

  • 1Cerniauskas
  • 2Sorokins
  • 4Maksimenko
  • 10Rakels
  • 13Nerugals
  • 14Varslavans
  • 30Friesenbichler
  • 77Dubra
  • 99Zaleiko

Hearts

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1GordonBooked at 74mins
  • 2Smith
  • 4HalkettSubstituted forNeilsonat 22′minutes
  • 3Kingsley
  • 19CochraneBooked at 8mins
  • 7GrantSubstituted forHaringat 70′minutesBooked at 83mins
  • 14Devlin
  • 16Halliday
  • 30GinnellyBooked at 79minsSubstituted forHumphrysat 79′minutes
  • 9ShanklandBooked at 45minsSubstituted forForrestat 79′minutes
  • 18McKay

Substitutes

  • 5Haring
  • 11Mackay-Steven
  • 12Atkinson
  • 13Stewart
  • 17Forrest
  • 20Neilson
  • 21Sibbick
  • 22Henderson
  • 27Smith
  • 28Clark
  • 29Humphrys
  • 39Pollock

Referee:
Aleksandar Stavrev

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