Hearts v Almeria brawl: Forehand smashes, referee 'all over the shop', Robbie Neilson explains decision to abandon match

Hearts’ friendly against Almeria has been abandoned after just 38 minutes after both sets of teams were involved in a huge altercation.

Alex Cochrane was sent off in the match against Almeria.
Alex Cochrane was sent off in the match against Almeria.

With the Jambos trailing 1-0 as the opening half drew to a close, Hearts’ Alex Cochrane and Almeria’s Rodrigo Ely were both shown red cards for an incident near the half-way line. Cochrane appeared to foul one of the Almeria players, but was then punched to the ground before a melee involving players and coaching staff from both sets of players ensued.

Hearts wrote on social media not long afterwards: “Following altercations between both sets of players, the decision has been made to abandon the match. Robbie Neilson will speak to Hearts TV shortly.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hearts goalkeeper Ross Stewart saved a penalty during the first-half action that took place, with a number of heavy tackles going in from both sets of players before the action in Malaga was brought to a premature end.

"It was a competitive game,” said Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson. “All of a sudden, on the far side, there was a tackle from Alex, which I thought was just a standard tackle, and then all hell broke loose. All the players were running around, forehand smashes from their centre-half on Alex. I think the ref has totally lost control of it and both benches were over – there were about 60 people on the pitch. So it was a bit of a shambles and we felt, it’s a pre-season game, we’ve already got a number of injuries, there’s no point in carrying on because tensions were extremely high, to the say the least.”

Neilson continued on HeartsTV: “When you come and play these games, there is always going to be a competitive edge but there’s a line that you can’t really cross, but it got crossed several times. The referee was all over the shop and couldn’t get anything going again, so we just felt there’s no point. We got nearly 45 minutes, it was a good runabout. We played a couple of days ago as well [a 4-0 defeat by Blackburn]. We’ll just move on and head back to the training camp.”