PAULO SERGIO today lamented Hearts’ scoring problems after just one goal in their last five league matches.
The manager is also concerned over injuries to captain Marius Zaliukas and midfielder Ian Black, with the Lithuanian leaving Tynecastle on crutches following Saturday’s 2-0 defeat by Dundee United.
Problems mounted for Sergio as Hearts slipped to sixth place in the Scottish Premier League. Since the 5-2 defeat of St Mirren last month, Suso’s last-minute equaliser at Rugby Park is their only SPL goal. Sergio was pleased by his team’s performance against United but frustrated at seeing Jon Daly and Gaving Gunning score from set-pieces whilst chances were squandered at the opposite end. He labelled Hearts’ attacking set plays “a disgrace”.
Zaliukas was withdrawn at half-time with a knee problem and was instantly put on crutches. Black injured ribs before being substituted in the first half, and both players were due to be assessed today by medical staff at Riccarton.
Sergio bemoaned the injury problems after David Templeton and Adrian Mrowiec both missed Saturday’s match. However, he was more concerned with Hearts’ inability to convert possession into goals allied to their defensive frailties.
“Possession was for our side but we created six or seven good chances to score,” he said. “We lost goals from two set-pieces, the first one a stupid foul and the second one a corner.
“The first half was very good for us. Even in the second half, with all these difficulties, we created two or three good chances to score. But we didn’t and they went to score a second one. It was a game we came into without Webster, Adrian (Mrowiec) and Templeton. And we lost Blackie in the first half then Marius at half-time. But set-pieces were our biggest problem.
“I don’t like to complain because Darren Barr did a great job in Webster’s place. People have to understand that the way we started the season is so far from where we are fighting now. We lost players before and during the game and that doesn’t help but it’s a credit for all the others because they fought for the points.
“They created chances and they played, but our defensive set-pieces gave the points to Dundee United. I can’t forget also that our offensive set-pieces were a disgrace.”
Sergio pledged to address the defensive problems in training this week. “Of course it worries me. Of course we have to work on that,” he told the Hearts website. “I don’t want to say we didn’t deserve to lose because we should be ready for set-pieces but I saw my team playing football against a good team. Dundee United didn’t play because we didn’t allow them and we created six or seven chances to score.
“I believe our boys deserved a different result in the end.”