Hearts’ brave bid for a UEFA Cup upset eventually faltered against Stuttgart despite a thrilling 3-2 home win.
The German team, 1-0 up from the first leg, had promised to kill the game off as swiftly as possible and Marcelo Bordon missed two good chances from corners to do just that.
In the 17th minute, Hearts brought themselves back into the tie and the Tynecastle crowd to its feet. Kevin James flicked on Gary Naysmith’s corner at the near post and Steven Pressley steamed into the area.
Both Pressley and Stuttgart defender Thomas Schneider jumped for the ball at the same time leaving Stuttgart keeper Hildebrand with no chance.
Robbie Neilson, replacing the injured Gary Locke, found space on the edge of the area from a Gary Naysmith cross and Hildebrand was forced to scramble across his line to save. But the Germans broke clear through Seitz who struck at goal. Anton Niemi saved but Dundee hooked the rebound past the Finnish internationalist. The German side opened the second half in imperious style as they bossed midfield against Hearts’ injury-ravaged team. The youngsters were looking weary as Seitz, Lisztes and Pablo Thiam seized control of the game.
Silvio Meissner saw his drilled strike deflected wide as the Germans continued to try and press home their territorial advantage and, in the 58th minute, they did just that.
Seitz’s corner was flicked over the Hearts defence by Hosny and Bordon rose to virtually assure the Germans’ safe passage into the second round.
But the home side were far from finished and offered themselves a lifeline four minutes later. Naysmith swung over a corner from the left, James rose to flick goalwards and Gordan Petric appeared to get the vital touch which took the ball over the line.
Jim Jefferies knew he had to take a gamble to keep his side in the game and threw Gary McSwegan into the fray with 14 minutes left to replace Andy Kirk. Dundee almost made the move redundant but he hit Meissner’s cross over the bar and then suddenly Hearts were back in the game in a moment of farce.
A long punt by Niemi was collected by McSwegan and he turned Meissner in the area. The Stuttgart defender pulled back the striker leaving referee Bruno Derrien to consult his assistant before pointing to the spot. The Luxembourg referee then showed the red card to Thiam – clearly not the man responsible for the foul.
The linesman was again called over to point Derrien in the right direction and Meissner was gone before Colin Cameron slotted home the penalty.
Seconds later, Stuttgart were reduced to nine men when Schneider was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Ultimately it was brave but just not enough for a walking wounded Hearts side.
Hearts: Niemi, Locke, Pressley, Murray, Naysmith, James, Petric, Cameron, Flogel, Kirk, Juanjo