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Neilson off the mark in style

Thursday, 25 November 2004

[1] Robbie Neilson scored a dramatic late winner as Heart of Midlothian FC secured their first points of UEFA Cup Group A against FC Basel 1893.

Fans delight

[2] The full-back's last-minute goal, his first for the club, sent the travelling fans into raptures, just as both teams looked ready to settle for a point. Striker Dennis Wyness had given Hearts a surprise half-time lead before Basel substitute César Carignano restored parity.

Teams' injuries

[3] Basel coach Christian Gross had to do without injured pair Mladen Petric and Murat Yakin, both missing from their last match against Swiss Cup rivals FC Thun, while John Robertson missed suspended midfield players Patrick Kisnorbo and Paul Hartley, but welcomed back captain Steven Pressley and Mark de Vries.

First chance

[4] Basel were first to threaten. Striker Christian Giménez lashed a shot towards the far corner in the opening moments that needed a fine stop from Craig Gordon, the young goalkeeper blocking the shot, before Julio Rossi missed the rebound.

Referee involved

[5] Basel continued to dominate, restricting the visitors to forays into the penalty area by set-piece alone. Indeed, Hearts needed help from the referee to create their first chance. An accidental intervention by the official allowed Michael Stewart time to shoot in the penalty area, the 23-year-old missing at the far post.

Surprise opener

[6] Galvanised by that near miss, Roberston's team took a surprise lead moments later. Another set-piece exposed Basel, as Hearts played the ball low instead of aiming high for De Vries. Three quick passes found Wyness in space and the striker made no mistake in slotting the ball past goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler.

Back come Basel

[7] Now forced to launch more committed attacks, Basel subjected Hearts to increased pressure, responding to the goal well. Only some desperate last-ditch defending denied Scott Chipperfield, Pressley playing a captain's part in throwing himself in front of the goal-bound effort.

Open match

[8] Basel started the second half how they had ended the first, but it was Hearts who punched through twice in quick succession in the opening moments. Robertson had clearly instructed his team not to sit back, a tactic that led to an open game with action at both ends. Chipperfield again went close, this time denied by some heroic goalkeeping, Gordon saving the Australian's point-blank diving header.

Carignano scores

[9] Basel's failure to equalise despite some decent chances was not lost on Gross, who reshuffled his attack midway through the half. His changes quickly paid dividends, substitute Carignano needing only ten minutes to level matters, the striker holding off Alan Maybury before shooting high past Gordon.

Last-gasp winner

[10] Basel pressed for a winner as the clock ticked down before Hearts' last-gasp winner. A speculative attack - more to relieve defensive pressure than to seriously threaten goal - paid off as Neilson advanced well beyond his station and sent his shot under the body of Zuberbühler with only moments left. Rejuvenated Hearts now sit out the next round of matches while Basel face Ferencvárosi TC on 1 December.

Robbie Neilson scored the winner for Hearts