Football: Rousset error spoils Hearts' holiday plans

Heart of Midlothian 0 Real Mallorca 1
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The Independent Online
HEARTS WILL have no time for a holiday when they travel to Majorca in two weeks' time for the second leg of this Cup-Winners Cup tie. Although the Scottish Cup holders were under-strength, the quality of their opposition ensured the advantage is very firmly with the Spanish side, who triumphed in their first European match.

A bizarre goal in the 17th minute was enough to settle the first leg and, while Hearts responded in the second half, the midfield was shorn of the skills required to make an impact. Steve Fulton was especially missed, his midfield position given to David Weir, but it was too much to expect the international defender to thread the kind of passes to the forwards that Fulton makes with ease.

For all their energy, Hearts were unable to pick their way through the visitors' defence, with not just Weir but various others operating well below par. The goal they lost was definitely avoidable, with Gilles Rousset having to take the blame for his part in the move.

From a corner, Rousset attempted to punch the ball clear but managed only to push the ball against the back of Marcelino's head and from there the ball rebounded into the net. The goal gave Hearts a harder task and, on a day when form deserted them, they created only two worthwhile chances in the opening half, Jim Hamilton's shot being deflected wide and an effort from Stephane Adam bouncing before being picked up by the goalkeeper.

Carlos Roa, the Argentinian goalkeeper whose penalty save from David Batty put England out of the World Cup in France, was forced to the edge of his area to deny Adam just 30 seconds after the re-start and, with Weir shooting wide, there were clear indications that Hearts were ready to carry the game to their opponents. In the 58th minute, Dave McPherson should have equalised. A free-kick saw the ball reach the defender six yards from goal but his shot struck the foot of Roa and bounced to safety.

There were two controversial moments thereafter when first McPherson fell in the area following an off-the-ball incident with Jovan Stankovic, who was fortunate his actions went unseen by the officials. A few minutes later the Italian referee had a clear view of a tackle on Neil McCann inside the penalty area which appeared to be a foul, but to the anger of the home support he waved penalty appeals aside.

Heart of Midlothian (3-4-3): Rousset; Pressley, McPherson, Ritchie; Locke, Salvatori, Weir, Naysmith; Adam, Hamilton (Holmes, 83), McCann. Substitutes not used: McKenzie (gk), Makel, Murray, Murie, Horn, Severin.

Real Mallorca (4-4-2): Roa; Olaizola, Marcelino, Siviero, M Soler; Lauren, Engonga, Arpon (Nino, 87), Stankovic (Carreras, 85); Lopez (Carlos, 70), Dani. Substitutes not used: Cesar Galvez (gk), F Soler, Paunovic, Biagini.

Referee: A Prentalange (Italy).