There is nothing quite like a midweek European tie. This truth was reaffirmed before 26,294 customers, who had been willing to pay inflated prices of £!0 and £20, at Tynecastle as Hearts edged closer to the impossible – a UEFA Cup semi-final place. None of the fans asked for refunds.
Iain Ferguson’s long-range shot 10 minutes after the interval was stunning in its power and was the difference between two sides of contrasting styles. One started out willing to play the ball with swift, telling touches, while the other appeared determined to barge their way towards glory.
This was a splendid triumph for Hearts against a team which had not lost away from home before last night. Also, Bayern had scored 12 times in their previous three away games in this competition.
Hearts were unimpressed and proceeded to surge forward at every opportunity. There were several heroes, but Alan McLaren should be mentioned in despatches. He won many admirers by the way he coped with Bayern’s quicksilver breaks, which became less frequent as the game progressed.
Hearts’ cause did not appear to be helped by the absence of John Robertson and Gary Mackay, both of whom had been struggling to shake off injuries. It was decided to hold them in reserve and they sat, albeit on edge, on the substitutes’ bench.
On one occasion when genuine danger threatened John Colquhoun’s progress was halted in a surprisingly crude manner. It was more surprising to discover the culprit was Olaf Thon, a small player but the possessor of blinding skills.
His next touch was to send Johnny Ekstrom galloping through the centre of Hearts’ defence. He in turn played the ball to Flick, and his shot skidded wide by less than a foot. It was Bayern’s first sortie forward and it was a clear demonstration of their decisiveness.
Eamonn Bannon took it upon himself to curb such boldness when he moved down the right with that ambling gait of his and lifted the ball to the far post. Mike Galloway launched himself upwards, but was ruled to have stopped the keeper from doing likewise.
Still, the Germans remained willing to knock the ball around at high speed and the first half ended with Alan McLaren being booked for a lunging tackle on Kogl. He was probably relieved to hobble indoors for some treatment.
Bannon had turned away in anguish as his fierce shot was blocked, then Ferguson, who complained too long and loudly after having been impeded on the edge of the box, was booked all within a couple of minutes after the break. Adrenalin was coursing and Hearts meant business.
It might have been panic, or perhaps it was a show of disdain, but the West Germans were playing a dangerous game by giving away silly fouls in the vicinity of their own box. Both free kicks were hit by Ferguson and the first one was saved by Aumann. He didn’t even see the second.
Kenny Black was dumped 25 yards out, McKinlay trundled the ball towards Ferguson, and he struck it with venom. The keeper would have needed radar to follow the ball’s flight path.
Suddenly, with 55 minutes gone, Bayern were chasing the game.
They never came close, and Hearts now stand on the threshold of glory.
Hearts: Smith, McLaren, McKinlay, MacPherson, Berry, Levein, Galloway, Ferguson, Colquhoun, Black, Bannon.