PAULO SERGIO admits he cannot explain the error from Marius Zaliukas which gifted Ayr United an equaliser at Somerset Park last night, but stressed he had no complaints about the efforts of the Hearts players.
The Edinburgh club lost 4-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw with their First Division opponents after extra time, and Sergio professed himself content with his team’s performance in the third round of the Scottish Communities League Cup.
He seemed at a loss, however, to explain how Zaliukas managed to present Ayr’s Gareth Wardlaw with the equaliser 15 minutes after Scott Robinson’s opening strike.
The Lithuanian, under no pressure, slipped whilst in possession of the ball 30 yards from goal. Wardlaw stepped in to home in on Janos Balogh and stroked the ball away from the Hungarian goalkeeper.
The goal allowed Ayr to force extra time and subsequently penalties, from which they progressed to today’s quarter-final draw after Danny Grainger and Rudi Skacel’s efforts were saved.
“It’s the second game that we put ourselves in trouble because of a mistake like that. But what can I say about that? Maybe he has to buy another boot,” said Sergio of Zaliukas.
“I’m happy, I can’t complain about the attitude. I agree we can do better, but the issue is not to make an evaluation on whether we can do better or not. The issue is that we were far better than our opponents.
“The guys gave a good answer on the pitch. They can do better, but they were far better than the other team. They did what they had to do to win the game. We are out of the competition and it’s not their fault.”
Hearts left Somerset Park disgruntled by referee Iain Brines’s decision to disallow an Eggert Jonsson goal 60 seconds before Ayr’s equaliser. The Icelander was judged by the match officials to have handled the ball in the act of scoring.