Hearts midfielder Paul Hartley described referee Levan Paniashvili’s decisions as “weird” after the Gorgie side lost 1-0 to Ferencvaros at Murrayfield to crash out of the UEFA Cup.
With the game still scoreless after 14 minutes, Hartley had the ball in the net from close range although it had appeared to strike his hand just beforehand.
However, although the official at first seemed to be allowing the goal to stand, he eventually chalked it off to the frustration of the Hearts players and fans.
Ferencvaros recovered from that early scare to take the lead though midfielder Denes Rosa on the half-hour mark and after that the visitors were never really in trouble in an irksome game that was always in danger of boiling over.
Hartley insisted the loss of the ‘goal’ was crucial but the former Scotland player admits the Jambos just did not do enough to merit the win.
He said: “The ball hit my arm but it was not intentional, I could not get out the way.
“I thought he blew late and the linesman had not even flagged so I thought he was going to give it but it was just one of those things.
“But I had the same referee in Germany last week with the Scotland Future squad and I thought he was terrible. Some of his decisions were quite weird.
“But I don’t think we did well enough on the night. I thought we started the game really well, we had a couple of chances that we never took but in the second half we huffed and puffed and never really looked like scoring.”
Hearts were Scotland’s sole European survivors going into the game but they needed to beat the Hungarians and hope Basle lost to group leaders Feyenoord in Switzerland.
However, in addition to the Jambos’ defeat, Basle beat the Dutch side 1-0 to leave the Edinburgh club joining the Old Firm and Dunfermline on the sidelines as European competitions take a rest over the festive season.
Hartley admits it was an opportunity lost and said: “With Rangers and Celtic not qualifying recently it was a great chance for us to fly the flag and get into Europe over Christmas but even if we had won the game other results did not go our way.
“We always thought Basle would get a result against Feyenoord with the Dutch having already qualified. But the important thing was to try and win the game and we fell short in the end.
“I think we had to win our home games against Schalke and Ferencvaros to have a chance of qualifying but hopefully it will stand us in good stead if we can make it again next year.”
Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Maybury, Webster, Pressley (c), Stewart, Kisnorbo (Wyness 71), Hartley, McAllister (Pereira 62), De Vries, Weir (McKenna (79).
Referee: Levan Paniashvili (Tbilisi)