Hearts in Spain: Blackburn Rovers put Robbie Neilson's side to the sword with convincing 4-0 victory
Hearts were soundly beaten by Blackburn Rovers in the first friendly during their pre-season training trip to Spain.
The English Championship side ran out 4-0 winners with three goals coming in the first half. In fairness to Robbie Neilson’s men, the scoreline wasn’t a particularly fair reflection on the balance of play, but while Rovers were clinical the Jam Tarts couldn't convert any of their opportunities.
There was also a degree of first-half contention which started with the opener in the fourth minute. Sammie Szmodics scored with an excellent volleyed finish, but Hearts felt a foul should have been awarded when Orestis Kiomourtzoglou (Kio) was robbed of possession in the centre of the park.
If that goal was impressive, the second on 22 minutes was even better. Former Aberdeen winger Ryan Hedges put in a great cross to the back post for Bradley Dack who rifled in an unstoppable effort with another volley.
Connor Smith and Kio both forced Thomas Kaminski into making a couple of top class saves in the first half, but it looked like Hearts had the goalkeeper beaten on 29 minutes. Smith made a strong driving run down the left before charging into the penalty area. He picked out Alan Forrest who controlled and struck a shot which hit the underside of the bar and appeared to bounce over the line. However, both referee and assistant were unmoved.
Blackburn took advantage to put the game out of sight just moments later. This time Hearts were architects of their own downfall as it was too easy for Dack to be played through in behind the defence. After shrugging off the attention of Toby Sibbick, he rounded Zander Clark and slotted him.
Another error presented Blackburn with their fourth seven minutes after the restart. Lewis Neilson dallied on the ball on the edge of his own area. This allowed George Hirst to win back possession and place a strong finish into the corner past Ross Stewart, who came on for Clark at the break.
Hearts team: Clark (Stewart 45); Neilson (Henderson 55), Sibbick, Kingsley (Tait 69); M Smith (McLuckie 69), Kio, Grant, Cochrane; Forrest, Shankland (Pollock 69), C Smith. Subs not used: Stone, Ginnelly