Webster own goal harsh on Hearts after rousing display at Tynecastle
JOHN McGlynn described his side’s defeat to Liverpool last night as “cruel”, after Hearts succumbed to a late own goal from Andy Webster in the first leg of their Europa League play-off tie.
John McGlynn described his side’s defeat to Liverpool last night as “cruel”, after Hearts succumbed to a late own goal from Andy Webster in the first leg of their Europa League play-off tie.
The manager could at least be comforted by the knowledge that his side’s performance meant there is no need to repeat the anguished wailing which followed last season’s 5-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the same round of the same competition.
That loss sparked another inquest into the state of Scottish football and had then Spurs manager Harry Redknapp trying his damnedest to be as kind as was possible in the circumstances.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers did not have to search hard for reasons to applaud the hosts last night, after an absorbing game. Webster put the ball into his own net with 13 minutes remaining after a testing ball into the box from Liverpool right-back Martin Kelly.
Chance after chance had already gone a-begging for Hearts prior to this sickening moment and McGlynn’s side created at least two more good opportunities to level the tie in the final minutes. Pepe Reina was forced to stop late efforts from Andy Driver and Callum Paterson.
No-one could claim that Liverpool were at full-strength, or even near it. Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez were left in Liverpool while Andy Carroll, who had been primed to start the game according to his manager, failed to make the match-day squad after injuring his hamstring earlier this week. However, there was still an abundance of talent on show as Rodgers included Jordan Henderson, who cost the club over £20 million, and £10 million striker Fabio Borini in his starting line-up. Charlie Adam also made his first start of the season.
McGlynn praised his back four and stressed that Webster had not been at fault for the goal. “Andy Webster was different class, as was Marius [Zaliukas],” he said. “The back four were really good against good players. [Raheem] Sterling out on the left there for a young player will be some talent. Ryan McGowan handled him really well but won’t keep a guy like that out of the game the whole time.
“I felt the least we deserved was a draw, it is a bit cruel to lose a goal in such a manner. It was a great ball in, don’t get me wrong. If you have a wide player who can put a ball in that position they would be delighted. The defender is scared to leave it and sometimes you can’t get out of the way of it.”
McGlynn was hopeful ahead of the return leg at Anfield next Thursday night, although he acknowledged it will be an uphill battle in view of the reinforcements Rodgers can call on to strengthen his side further.
“It’s only 1-0 so you never know,” he said. “We have to look after ourselves, obviously. We have another game this weekend against Aberdeen. So, if we can put in a good performance there and get a result we can go down to Anfield with confidence.
“We don’t have an awful lot to lose,” he added. “At the minute we are out of it. I am not stupid enough to go gung -ho. We need to be like we were tonight, controlled and disciplined. I don’t think anyone could have complained tonight if we got a draw, or even got a win. We had enough chances.
“He [Rodgers] has the bonus of bringing guys like Gerrard and Suarez in if he wants to use them. I will wait and see what kind of team he puts out. But if they take the foot off the gas and we can cash in on something then you never know.”
McGlynn instructed his team to keep it tight in the opening stages. He admitted that the Tynecastle side’s experience against Spurs last year, when Hearts were 3-0 down before half-time, had influenced his thinking.
“The Spurs game was always in the back of our mind,” he said. “We felt we owed it to everyone to put in a performance. The fans who came out tonight can be proud of their team. They did put in a good performance and we did get closer.
“I thought we were a threat too,” he added. “I thought the crowd played their part too. They [Liverpool] realised they were in a game. The players are disappointed. They know they put in a good performance against a class side. Given the calibre of team we played tonight, they can be proud of their performance.”
Rodgers, meanwhile, was delighted to earned a win from Liverpool’s first visit to Tynecastle since appearing in a charity match in Gorgie in the 1950s.
“We had a problem with our positioning in the first half but in the second half we were much better,” he said. “We had tactical discipline, worked the ball from side to side better and obviously that led to the goal, which was a well-worked move.
“After that, we managed the game well. It was a tough game. Hearts are an excellent side who have obviously started the season well. The atmosphere was fantastic, so it was always going to be tough. It’s always good to get a get a win in a European game and obviously now we hope to finish it in the second leg.” He stressed again that he had taken the threat of Hearts seriously, despite making so many changes.
“We always respect every opponent,” Rodgers said. “We are not that good to be that complacent to be honest.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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