Hearts 0, Nurnberg 5: Jambos well beaten in Spain

FC Nurnberg handed Hearts a comprehensive defeat in the second of their friendlies in Spain.

Saturday, 13th January 2018, 4:44 pm
Updated Saturday, 13th January 2018, 5:26 pm
Hearts' Esmael Goncalves, right, competes with Nurnberg's Georg Margreitter. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

Left-back Demetri Mitchell played for just over an hour, making his debut after joining on loan from Manchester United, and looked dangerous going forward. Hearts spent most of the afternoon trying to deal with a rampant German attack, though.

After drawing 1-1 with Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem on Friday, Craig Levein’s side would have been fairly confident taking on German second division opponents but this game was over by the break, with Nurnberg 4-0 ahead and cruising.

An overcast afternoon at the Oliva Nova complex didn’t prevent a small crowd gathering to watch this Scottish-German affair.

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Young Hearts defender Chris Hamilton cleared full-back Miso Brecko’s shot off the goal line after only three minutes as Nurnberg sought an early advantage. He was one of five teenagers in the Edinburgh club’s starting line-up.

Another block, this time by the outstretched right foot of the Hearts goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, denied the Iceland international striker Rurik Gislason from Patrick Kammerbauer’s accurate low cross.

The much-threatened breakthrough came on 14 minutes. Nurnberg midfielder Lucas Hufnagel set off on a surging run and slipped a through ball to Gislason. He produced a precise left-footed finish across McLaughlin and into the far corner of the goal.

The Germans moved further ahead on 22 minutes. Midfielder Laszlo Sepsi’s cross from the left reached Brecko on the far side of the penalty area, and the Slovenian internationalist slotted with the inside of his right foot to leave McLaughlin helpless.

Hearts were struggling to impose themselves but fashioned a good opening through Mitchell on 33 minutes. The Englishman took Harry Cochrane’s pass and crossed to the back post, where the unmarked Aidan Keena failed to connect properly.

Sixty seconds later, they fell further behind. Hufnagel was again the architect with a dribbling run through the opposition defence. He fed the unmarked substitute Tobias Werner, who finished confidently.

McLaughlin blocked with his legs to stop Maxi Krauss making it 4-0 as Hearts appealed for offside. That only delayed the inevitable, though. A minute from the interval, Alexander Fuchs crossed for Grislason to finish off his second of the afternoon.

Levein made sweeping changes at half-time and the substitutes did make an improvement. Only an offside flag stopped Kyle Lafferty reducing the deficit. Hearts were then denied a clear penalty when the Nurnberg defender Ewerton fouled Euan Henderson, but the Spanish officials let play continue.

Enrico Valentini’s raking drive rebounded off McLaughlin’s post with 20 minutes left. The Germans had slowed slightly but were still in control. McLaughlin did well to hold a 25-yard attempt from Eduard Lowen, and Hearts’ misery was complete seven minutes from full-time when Nurnberg left-back Ulisses Garcia Lopes bent the fifth goal into the top corner from 20 yards.

Hearts first half (4-2-3-1): McLaughlin; Brandon, C Hamilton, Berra, Mitchell; Paton, Cochrane; Keena, Martin, Milinkovic; Stockton.

Hearts second half (4-2-3-1): McLaughlin; Sandison, Souttar, Petkov, Mitchell (Baur 61); Paton, Cochrane (Ritchie 61 (C Smith 76)), Irving; Henderson, Zanatta, Goncalves, Lafferty.

Nurnberg first half (4-1-3-2): Breadlow; Brecko, Jager, Hofmann, Muhl; Kammerbauer; Fuchs, Hufnagel, Sepsi; Gislason, Krauss (Werner 30).

Nurnberg second half (3-4-3): Breadlow; Margreitter, Ewerton, Lowen; Valentini, Fuchs, Petrak, Garcia Lopes; Mohwald; Salli, Palacios.