Stephen Humphrys explains where it all went wrong for Hearts and admits 'gulf in class'
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The striker on loan from Wigan Athletic, picked ahead of Lawrence Shankland to spearhead the attack, hit the post inside 30 seconds and scored a consolation shortly after half time in an otherwise one-sided 5-1 Europa Conference League Group A defeat in Florence.
“It was a painful night,” the Englishman told BT Sport. “We wanted to come here and get some redemption after last week. Second-half we gave a good account ourselves, but in the first half we let ourselves down.
“We’ve just got to focus on Aberdeen now and put it right. We gave them a lot of respect and time on the ball. If you give teams like that too much respect they punish you. That’s what happened.”
Humphrys struck the inside of the post with a left-foot strike after just 28 seconds when latching on to a reverse pass from Barrie McKay and was arguably Hearts’ best player on the night.
“Maybe it would have been a different game if that went in, but we can’t really focus on that,” he added. “We weren’t good enough on the night. We changed changed shape and I felt like we could get after them a little bit more. We had a lot more energy and took a little bit of pride away from the game. To lose by that margin is always going to be a little bit embarrassing, but we were playing against a top team in Europe with so much history.”
Hearts are not out of the competition yet, despite three defeats out of four in their group. They trail second-placed Fiorentina by four points with two games remaining. A home victory over bottom club RFS at Tynecastle would give Hearts an outside chance of progressing when they travel to group leaders Istanbul Basaksehir in the final game. Humphrys admitted: “The gulf in class from the top to the bottom is a big one, but anyone is beatable so we will keep trying.”