Lawrence Shankland reveals a scary Hearts European prediction and worry of missed chance in Riga
As Hearts players departed the team hotel in Riga for Thursday’s match with RFS, Alan Forrest made an eerie prediction.
Turning to room-mate Lawrence Shankland, he announced both would score in the Skonto Stadium. A few hours later the pair were basking in the joy of Forrest’s foresight becoming reality.
The striker stroked home a first-half penalty before the winger’s stoppage-time goal completed a memorable 2-0 win in the Europa Conference League. Forrest’s goal helped ease Shankland’s stress over an earlier miss from Josh Ginnelly’s low ball which would have put Hearts 2-0 ahead by the interval.
“I think I’ve taken a step towards him thinking he was just going to cushion it, then he passed it and I’ve had to change direction. I don’t think I sorted my feet out enough to get proper contact,” recalled Shankland.
“Of course you are worrying for the game: ‘Please don’t come back to bite us.’ To be honest, it’s better to miss chances than not get any at all like the last few weeks. We created quite a few then wee Al got his goal and finished it off for us.
“My wee room-mate, he kind of called it before the game. He said, ‘the two of us are going to notch’ on the way out the door. I said, ‘I hope so’ and it proved to be right.”
Shankland won’t let the missed opportunity prey on his mind for long. “Every time the ball goes into the box, you are thinking, ‘please don’t score’. You are big enough and ugly enough, I’ve missed more than that throughout my career and miss more,” he said.
“It’s a great three points for us, we knew it was going to be a tough game coming here. I thought it was a good away performance and they’re a decent team as well. They came off the back of a good result last week against Fiorentina.”
Conversely, Hearts successfully recovered from a 4-0 home reverse against Istanbul Basaksehir. “Of course that was disappointing but they’re the top seeds in the group for a reason,” explained Shankland. “We probably didn’t play as well as we could have but they played really well on the night and it was a deserved win for them.
“It was not the start we wanted and we emphasised how important the RFS game was for us, going there with that pressure to win. I thought we handled it well. We had to soak up pressure at times but overall we were good. I managed to score the penalty and wee Al got his goal at the end so I was delighted for him.”
Shankland now has two goals from two European away ties with Hearts. He is not remotely fussed that both came from the penalty spot.
“People will say ‘it’s penalties he’s scoring’ but you need to put them away and that’s my job as the penalty taker. It was another good one so hopefully we can keep winning.”
Motherwell away in the Premiership is next on the agenda. “We go into Sunday hoping to get a good result there and that will hopefully put us in a good place going into the international break,” said Shankland.