Hearts' Euro defeat overshadowed by unedifying events surrounding Queen's minute's silence

On nights like these the Hearts support are called upon to make some noise.

Hearts players stand wearing black armbands before the second half following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Hearts players stand wearing black armbands before the second half following the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

But, responding to news of the Queen’s death, which filtered through as players headed up the tunnel at half-time, the public address system was turned down low.

Plans, which had obviously been put in place as news of the monarch’s failing health became public, were enacted and UEFA, Istanbul Basaksehir and the referee signed off on a minute’s silence at the beginning of the second half and everyone re-emerged with black armbands on as a show of respect.

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That courtesy was not extended by everyone in the stands, though. Isolated insults were audible, as sections of the support then rounded on each other as a rendition of God Save the Queen from a section of the Main Stand was quashed by boos around the ground.

Hearts winger Josh Ginnelly looks dejected as the Isatnbul squad celebrate making it 4-0. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)
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It was an unedifying spectacle and it affected the atmosphere which had been quite subdued already and which seemed to dilute further in the dreich, dismal air.

Perhaps burned by their bickering, it took the support until the 56th minute to finally regain their voice and produce the kind of roar that is expected on European nights under the Tynecastle floodlights. But, the fizz had long since gone flat and those moments of unity were fleeting.

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By then Robbie Neilson’s men were already trailing, after Hasan Ali Kaldirim had broken the deadlock in the 26th minute but the margin was tight and, while the quality in the away ranks was clear, there had been enough in the first 45 minutes to suggest that Hearts were capable of still having a go. They just needed to unleash the final shot a bit quicker.

Having their pockets picked was to prove costly at both ends of the pitch as the Turkish side, who started the contest as the group’s top seeds, moved up through the gears and made the most of the space left by a Hearts team left trying to chase the game.

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Istanbul's Ahmed Touba and Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland challenge for the ball. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

It could have been different, though. The visitors had been slow in setting a decent tempo, and it allowed Hearts to settle but just as they had against FC Zurich, thet failed to make the most of the openings that came their way.

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Prior to the match, Nielsen and his players had used that match as the benchmark, insisting that if they could recapture elements of that performance they could give their guests a shock.

But, it was the inability to trouble the opposition keeper that was the truest reminder of that match.

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Lawrence Shankland did look like he would be able to test him but as he was played through in the 15th minute, skipping past Leo Duarte, he was caught dallying by Ahmed Touba, who nicked in to clear he danger just as the striker was about to pull the trigger. The same would happen later in the game as Hearts failed to learn their lesson.

This was the chance for Hearts to mix it with the big boys on a European stage and they came inches from opening the scoring, midway through the half when Stephen Kingsley bettered Muhmmed Senegezer t the back post and found Peter Haring but the Austrian couldn’t get quite enough power on his header and it was cleared off the line.

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It proved to be a key moment as minutes later it was the away side who had taken the advantage.

Haring was dispossessed on the edge of the area and when the ball was sprayed out wide to Hasan Ali Kaldirim and he sent a swerving shot past Craig Gordon.

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Had this been one of those occasions where the fans electrified the night there could have been some hope of a comeback but instead, shortly after Bertrand Traore had rocketed a shot off the bar, Istanbul made it two in the 67th minute.

The way both teams responded to that Youssouf Ndayishimiye headed goal spoke volumes, as Hearts let their inexperience get the better of them and the opposition demonstrated the quality in their ranks, with the giant Stefano Okaka making a nuisance of himself.

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With Craig Halkett still missing, the Hearts rearguard lacked physicality and he exploited all of their frailties.

He was the man who made it 3-0, when he burst through, and sent a deflected effort off Stephen Kingsley and into the net.

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By that stage Hearts had little in response. They had thrown on subs, and shifted things around, with new signing Stephen Humphrys and early substitute, at the start of the second half and Josh Ginelly, Connor Smith and Eyan Henderson all sent on in the hope they could make a difference as Neilson remained hopeful that they could steady things but, instead, Istanbul made it four.

That goal came with eight minutes remaining and, like others before it was served up too easily for the home fans who had stuck around.

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Berkay Ozca took a touch inside and unleashed his shot. Once again there was a slight deflection to help it on its way.

But that was, against a team unbeaten since March, once again a common theme for the night as Hearts contributed too generously to their downfall. They have now won just six of their last seven games and the Hearts gaffer has spoken of learning lessons. An ongoing education in a realm he wants them to adapt to and prove themselves worthy of they will have to rectify things quickly, ahead of the remaining European ties.

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