Match Report: Blackburn Rovers 4-0 Hearts12 February 2022
Three first-half goals floored the Jambos, who made their English opposition work for it in the second half. Alan Forrest and Bobby McLuckie both went close, but Jon Dahl Tomasson's men proved too strong on the day, as Robbie Neilson's men got more minutes under their belt.
An experienced Hearts side lined up on the immaculate grass pitches at the Center, with young players from the B Team given the chance to feature from the bench.
Sammie Szmodics opened the scoring after four minutes with an excellent volleyed finish, but the Maroons argued that a foul probably should have been awarded when Orestis Kiomourtzoglou was fouled in the build up to the goal.
The second on 22 minutes was well crafted by Ex-Aberdeen winger Ryan Hedges - as the former Dons man put in a great cross from the left hand side to the back post for George Hirst who rifled in an unstoppable effort with another volley.
Hearts were keen to hit back, and Connor Smith and Kio both forced Rovers stopper Thomas Kaminski into making a couple of quality saves in the first half, but Hearts were soon left to rue a glorious chance missed to pull one back.
Connor Smith darted down the left with a mazy run before crashing into the box. Alan Forrest was the recipient of his resulting cutback - who pulled back his foot and unleashed an almight effort which smacked off the underside of the bar - with Hearts appealing that it had crossed the line. However, both referee and assistant waved away complaints.
The Rovers, third in England's second tier, made Hearts pay for the earlier misses just moments later. George Hirst popped up again, hoovering up a through ball as he was played in behind the defence. Despite Hearts' best efforts, he rounded Zander Clark and slotted home to complete his brace.
Blackburn emerged for the second half right out the traps, bagging their fourth seven minutes after the restart. Lewis Neilson was dispossed of the ball on the edge of the area. Edun won the ball back on the edge, laid off to a waiting Bradley Dack who made it four with a side-footed finish.
The game settled down into a rhythm after that, with both sides enjoying spells with the ball without testing the keepers at either end. Youngsters Finaly Pollock, Macaulay Tait and Finlay Pollock were all given minutes around the 70 minute mark.
In the final minute, it was the young defender McLuckie who nearly pulled back a consolation effort for the Jambos. The youngster did well to latch onto a Forrest through-ball and round the 'keeper, but he poked his effort inches wide of target.
Hearts: Clark (Stewart 45); Neilson (Henderson 55), Sibbick, Kingsley (Tait 69); M Smith (McLuckie 69), Kio, Grant, Cochrane; Forrest, Shankland (Pollock 69), C Smith.
Subs not used: Stone, Ginnelly
Blackburn: Kaminski, Hedges, Phillips, Ayala (Edun 45'), S. Wharton, Mola (Gent 80'), Travis, Morton, Szmodics (Leonard 85'), Dack (Harlock 85'), Hirst
Subs not used: Eastham