Jefferies confirms Hamill's role as penalty king

JIM JEFFERIES today outlined the importance of Hearts' away goal in Hungary and revealed that scorer Jamie Hamill was the only man to convert the penalty which secured a 1-1 draw against Paksi SE.

Hearts are now clear favourites to progress in the Europa League third qualifying round after Hamill's spot-kick equalised Istvan Sipeki's 32nd-minute opener. It was the former Kilmarnock player's second successive penalty conversion following his winner in the recent pre-season friendly with Antwerp.

Jefferies was elated to see his side score away from home and offered praise for Hamill's composure under pressure and finishing expertise. "He showed that against Antwerp when he stuck a penalty away. There was only one person ever going to take the penalty and he put it away well," said the Hearts manager.

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"It's a big goal in Europe because it's an away goal. Paksi defended very well, they were difficult to break down because they sit in and hit you on the break. We were pleased not to lose the game and to get a goal. I thought Paksi were well organised, strong and physical and worked hard. They don't have individuals. They take good corners and free-kicks and we had to deal with that."

Hamill was delighted to score on his competitive debut for Hearts having missed Saturday's SPL match with Rangers through suspension. He modestly rejected the notion of being a penalty expert, focusing instead on the potential outcome of the tie. "I wouldn't say I'm prolific, no," he said. "It's great to get a goal in Europe, an away goal at that, but it's a disappointing result. Hopefully we can now take them back to Tynecastle and finish the job.

"I think in parts of the game we showed what we're about. But Paksi were a good team and it's a bit of step into the unknown, coming here to play. Obviously I'm a bit fortunate to play, with Mehdi Taouil having picked up an injury, but I would have been a bit disappointed (not to play). Considering the boys did really well at Ibrox, I had to take this chance."

Hamill also praised his Ugandan colleague David Obua, who played the full 90 minutes despite not managing to train with the team in Hungary. "The big man was brilliant again, just as he was on Saturday."