John Robertson's homecoming party was wrecked at Murrayfield last night as Hearts slumped to their second successive defeat in Group A of the Uefa Cup.
The new manager's team now have their work cut out to progress after Patrick Kisnorbo was sent off just after half-time for two of the cheapest yellow cards ever seen and Schalke took the points through Lincoln's searing 73rd-minute winner.
Hearts required a lift after their opening night defeat away to Feyenoord and that was delivered simply by the appointment a day earlier of Robertson as successor to Craig Levein.
Hearts were without their current top scorer, Mark de Vries, whose injury restricted him to a substitute's role. A killer touch was absent when Hearts made a great chance after 22 minutes when Jamie McAllister's venomous shot was beaten out by goalkeeper Frank Rost only for Paul Hartley to hit the keeper with the rebound.
Schalke, though, displayed a fluency of movement that befitted their status as second in the Bundesliga. Their two Brazilians, Lincoln and Ailton, combined well nine minutes before half-time for the latter to fire a just over. Then Lincoln conjured up a clever shot that Craig Gordon touched over the bar.
Hearts' prospects were not helped when Kisnorbo was sent off just two minutes into the second half. His attempt to win a penalty was punished with a second booking for diving, adding to a first for dissent, to become a petty dismissal.
Schalke went for the jugular. Ebbe Sand hit one post and Niels Ouide-Kamphuis struck the other before Gordon made a great save from Ailton's header. The Germans broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute when Lincoln robbed Hartley and hit a 30-yard shot past Gordon.
Robertson said the sending off of Kisnorbo was a turning point. "It was a major point because until then I thought we contained them they didn't create any real chances until Paddy went off."
For his part, Kisnorbo said the sending off was "the lowest point of my career".
Heart Of Midlothian (4-4-2): Gordon; Neilson, Webster, Pressley, Maybury; Hamill (Weir, 76), Hartley, Kisnorbo, McAllister; McKenna (de Vries, 66), Pereira (MacFarlane, 51). Substitutes not used: Moilanen (gk), Wyness, de Vries, Weir, Berra, Stewart.
Schalke 04 (4-1-3-2) Rost; Ouide-Kamphuis, Waldoch, Bordon, Pander; Poulsen; Altinop (Kobiashvili, 60), Lincoln, Sand (Hanke, 86); Ailton, Asamoah (Varela, 60). Substitutes not used: Heimeroth (gk), Klasener, Rodriguez, Vermant, Varela.
Referee: N Ivanov (Russia).
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