Match Report: Hearts 0-3 Fiorentina11 June 2022
It was a far from ideal start for the boys in maroon; just four minutes had been played before Rolando Mandragora nodded the Tuscans in front from a searching cross from the right-hand side.
The Italians, so clever and wily with the ball at their feet, played at a breakneck pace. Hearts responded in like; a searching ball from Andy Halliday found it’s way onto the head of Michael Smith, but the Northern Irishman’s tame effort proved to be easy meat for Pierluigi Gollini in the Fiorentina goal.
It took some dogged defending from Hearts to turn away Fiorentina’s relentless march on the fifteen-minute mark; Stephen Kingsley bravely putting his head among the flying boots to steer Riccardo Saponara’s quick ball across goal.
Craig Gordon, on the twentieth anniversary of making his Hearts debut, produced a stretching stop of the highest quality to turn away Igor’s 15-yard effort. The Fiorentina man had made a daring run from midfield before Scotland’s number one was called into action.
Former Real Madrid man Luka Jovic showed exactly why Los Blancos signed him, cushioning down a delightful flick-on from Saponara before poking the ball narrowly wide of its intended target.
Fiorentina may have been creating a bucket-load of chances – but the actual finishing touch was notably lacking for the Italians under the lights in Gorgie. After a fairly dour final act in the first half, Christian Kouame suddenly popped up to bag a second for I Viola. The ball fell kindly after a fine Terzic cross, with the imposing Kouame producing an acrobatic finish to send the ball fleeing in past Craig Gordon.
HALF-TIME: HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN 0-2 FIORENTINA
There was to be further twists in the tale for Hearts, almost straight from the outset as the second 45 began. The Jambos were reduced to ten men after Lewis Neilson was adjudged by Erik Lambrechts to have denied an onrushing Jovic a goalscoring opportunity. Nothing came of the resulting free-kick, Biraghi’s effort sailing well wide, but it was a far from ideal start for the maroons after a frustrating first half.
Hearts were not without their moments, but they were few and far between as the Italians gobbled up the lion’s share of possession. Nate Atkinson did well to roll his marker before sending a powerful effort whizzing narrowly over the crossbar with 63 minutes played.
On 78 minutes – the Florentine’s would claim a third. The impressive Jovic applied the finishing touch to a sweeping move up the park, marshalled by Kouame’s threaded ball across to Jovic in the middle.
Attention now turns to Hearts’ trip to Ayrshire on Sunday at 3pm; as Robbie Neilson’s men lock horns with Derek McInnes and his Kilmarnock team at Rugby Park.
Hearts: Gordon, M. Smith (Atkinson 58’), Kingsley, Neilson, Cochrane, Kiomourtzoglou, Halliday, Grant (Devlin 52’), McKay (Mackay-Steven 74’), Ginnelly (Forrest 74’), Shankland (Humphrys 52’)
Subs: Stewart, Clark, Haring, Mackay-Steven, Atkinson, Devlin, Forrest, Sibbick, Henderson, C. Smith, Humphrys
Fiorentina: Gollini, Biraghi, Bonaventura (Zurkowski 87’), Jovic, Saponara (Gonzalez 80’), Terzic, Martinez Quarta, Amrabat (Bianco 74’), Mandragora, Igor, Kouame
Subs: Terracciano, Cerofolini, Dodo, Milenkovic, Cabral, Maleh, Ranieri, Gonzalez, Venuti, Zurkowski, Duncan, Bianco