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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2006, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Hearts 0-2 Sparta Prague
Hearts' Jamie Mole
Hearts could not cope with Sparta at a rain-lashed Murrayfield
Hearts' Euro hopes were left hanging by a thread after falling 2-0 to Sparta Prague in their UEFA Cup first round first leg tie at a sodden Murrayfield.

Daniel Kolar's unstoppable drive gave the impressive Czechs a deserved lead after 34 minutes and Hearts struggled to form any sort of reasonable reply.

At times goalkeeper Craig Gordon was vital in keeping the visitors at bay.

But he could not prevent Sparta sub Miroslav Matusovic firing in a second from the edge of the penalty area.

Mirsad Beslija made his first start of the season for Hearts. Bruno Aguiar shrugged off a hamstring injury to return to the midfield along with youngster Jamie Mole.

Chilean striker Mauricio Pinilla paired up with Roman Bednar in attack.

Kick-off was slightly delayed because of smoke from the fireworks display. The Murrayfield pitch was sodden from the relentless rain, making life hard for both sets of players.

Sparta had first go at goal when midfielder Ludovic Sylvestre worked a one-two with Libor Dosek on the edge of the Hearts penalty area before sliding his shot inches past the post.

Beslija's back-post header from Mole's cross was Hearts' first effort but Sparta keeper Jaromir Blazek easily saved.

Gordon made a fine save on the half-hour by touching Sylvestre's angled drive over the crossbar.

But Sparta took the lead when the ball fell to Kolar on the edge of the penalty area and the midfielder sent an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

As Hearts tried to respond, Pinilla headed straight into the arms of Blazek from a Hartley corner. In the second half an angled shot by Mole was beaten out by Blazek as Hartley failed with the rebound.

Hearts made a double substitution with Ibrahim Tall and Deividas Cesnauskis coming on for Pinilla and Beslija.

Seconds later Sparta substitute Matusovic missed a sitter when he flashed a shot from close range past the far post.

Gordon pulled off an incredible series of saves, blocking Dosek's low drive and Sylvestre's volley and then pushing Matusovic's effort behind for a corner.

But moments later the Scotland keeper was beaten again when Matusovic atoned for his earlier misses by drilling the ball in from distance.

Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Pressley, Berra, Wallace, Beslija (Tall 63), Aguiar, Hartley, Mole, Pinilla (Cesnauskis 63), Bednar.
Subs Not Used: Banks, Fyssas, Makela, Karipidis, Park.

Booked: Aguiar.

Sparta Prague: Blazek, Repka, Pospech, Homola, Kadlec, Kisel, Sivok, Ludovic (Lustrinelli 86), Kolar (Hasek 76), Simak (Matusovic 63), Dosek.
Subs Not Used: Grigar, Drobny, Zabavnik, Jun.

Booked: Simak, Kadlec.

Goals: Kolar 34, Matusovic 71.

Att: 27,255.

Ref: Paolo Bertini (Italy).



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