AN INDUSTRIOUS display laced with some impressive debut performances was sufficient for Hearts to dispense with German regional league side Goslar SC 08 last night, ensuring a successful opening to their four-game pre-season tour.
Despite falling behind, goals from David Obua and Michael Stewart overhauled the deficit but the most alluring aspect of the evening were the performances of recent signings Suso and Dawid Kucharski. Even allowing for the lower-league opposition, both appear useful additions to Csaba Laszlo's squad and well worth the moderate investment required to lure them to Scotland.
Kucharski, the Polish centre-back, was physically commanding and comfortable on the ball while Spanish winger Suso evinced sound upper body strength and some intricate footwork on the right flank. He was heavily involved in Hearts' second goal, scored by Stewart.
The modest setting of Goslar's Osterfeldstadion offered a tranquil beginning to this tour in front of Lithuanian director Sergejus Fedotovas, who flew in for the match. The surrounding greenery and adjacent local funfair gave little hint of the significance of the game for Laszlo's side who, with a Europa League qualifying tie looming next month, were seeking to hit the ground running.
Only one trialist appeared in Hearts' starting 11, the Austrian striker David Witteveen, with Lithuanian pair Marius Cinikas and Vytautas Luksa on the substitutes' bench. Another new face was that of Kucharski partnering Jose Goncalves in central defence. Marian Kello, Christian Nade, Larry Kingston and Marius Zaliukas were out injured.
Hearts, captained by Stewart, began the match at a high tempo but discovered their hosts in similarly energetic mood. The first goal went to the Germans more by dint of human error than any intelligent build-up. A clearance by full-back Ben Lipke bounced in front of Goncalves, who dithered momentarily and was dispossessed by striker Gregorz Podokzak. He sprinted off towards goal and unleashed an early shot from 20 yards which arced over the advancing Janos Balogh into the net. Moments later the Hungarian spontaneously palmed away an impromptu clearance by Kucharski, with the Hearts defence looking disjointed until Obua's equaliser.
Witteveen meandered inside from the right flank to supply Calum Elliot, whose run and cross eluded the on-running Austrian but was dispatched confidently by Obua's right boot. That goal had a galvanising effect on the visitors, who moved in front seven minutes later. Stewart drove from inside his own half to feed an intelligent pass for Suso in behind the Goslar defence, and after goalkeeper Marc Bormann parried the Spaniard's low cross Stewart arrived to convert.
Laszlo made nine interval substitutions with this evening's match against Slask Wroclaw in mind. Many of the replacements were younger members of the squad seeking to impress the manager. Witteveen remained on the field, though, and on 55 minutes he dispatched a low shot which did not overly trouble the German goalkeeper.
Gary Glen clipped the half's best opportunity wide of goal in the 68th minute from an acute angle. In the closing stages, Ian Black forced a corner with a venomous effort from distance, but by then there was little chance of Hearts requiring another goal.
Hearts: Balogh, Jonsson, Kucharski, Goncalves, Wallace, Suso, Stewart, Palazuelos, Obua, Elliot, Witteveen. Subs: McDonald 46 (for Balogh), J Thomson 46 (for Wallace), C Thomson 46 (for Jonsson), Glen 46 (for Elliot), Cinikas, Luksa 46 (for Suso), Novikovas 46 (for Obua), Black 46 (for Stewart), Mrowiec 46 (for Palazuelos), McGowan 46 (for Goncalves).
Referee: Sebastian Rabe.