Hearts started their pre-season campaign with a 3-2 closed-doors win over Welsh champions The New Saints tonight.
The Jambos raced into a two-goal lead courtesy of Faycal Rherras and Juanma, before losing two second-half goals to Scott Quigley and Adrian Ciesslewicz, but Dario Zanatta bagged the winner late on.
It took Hearts only four minutes to get their noses in front. Callum Paterson’s cross-field pass saw Rherras nip in front of his man and drill low at the edge of the box, into the bottom corner of the net.
Six minutes later it was 2-0. Paterson was again the provider, crossing low from the right for Juanma to beat his man to the ball and dink beyond the ‘keeper.
Jamie Walker was proving a constant threat and in 18 minutes he weaved inside to find Conor Sammon, who took a touch and blasted goalwards but was denied by goalkeeper Paul Harrison.
The New Saints could’ve pulled one back after 24 minutes when Quigley pounced on a through ball and cut inside, be he rifled wide with the goal at his mercy.
Just after the half hour mark, Prince Buaben expertly took down a high ball and sent Juanma through. The Spaniard wrestled past his man but fired wide from the edge of the box.
Moments later, a high cross into the Hearts box was met by Ciesslewicz, but he somehow failed to find the target after outjumping a clutch of maroon shirts.
Three minutes into the restart, The New Saints halved the deficit. Quigley turned inside the box and hit a rocket shot which crashed off the underside of the crossbar and back out, but the referee judged the ball to have crossed the line.
Billy King enjoyed freedom on the right flank and in the 58th minute he found Angus Beith, whose low effort from 25-yards was deflected inches wide of the ‘keeper’s left-hand post.
It was all square after 67 minutes. John Souttar was penalised for hauling down his man inside the box, and Ciesslewicz stepped up to hit a precise spot kick in off Jack Hamilton’s left-hand post.
Hamilton came to the rescue five minutes later, making a stunning flying save to deny Quigley a second goal.
Hearts did have the ball in the back of the net with 15 minutes remaining, but Nikolay Todorov was judged to have turned in Zanatta’s cross with his arm.
With three minutes left the Jambos sealed the win. A poor clearance from The New Saints goalkeeper saw Zanatta latch onto the loose ball, and he carried it into the box before holding off his man and shooting low into the bottom corner.
Hearts (first-half): Hamilton, Paterson, Ozturk, Rossi, Rherras, Nicholson, Djoum, Buaben, Walker, Sammon, Juanma.
Hearts (second-half): Hamilton, Godinho (Baur, 78’), Souttar, McGhee, Oshaniwa, King, Gomis, Beith (Cowie, 71’), Zanatta, Muirhead, Todorov.