Heart of Midlothian in Europe – 2012/13

Heart of Midlothian will enter the draw for the Playoff Round of the Europa League on Friday at 12:30pm.  Their matches will take place on 23rd August and 30th August, and we won’t know whether they are home or away first until after the draw.  They qualified for the Europa League by virtue of their Scottish Cup success, making it the third time in the last four seasons that they participate in European competition.

Hearts have participated in Europe fairly regularly, but have been unable to match the success of the likes of Aberdeen and Dundee United.  Their run to the UEFA Cup quarter-final in 1988/89 was the only time they have ever progressed more than a single round in a European competition.  Their record at Tynecastle (and Murrayfield) is fairly impressive, with 20 home wins in 36 matches, but many of these good results have been nullified by their poor away form (8 wins in 38 matches* away from Edinburgh).

*Those of you who can count may have noticed that they have played away more times than at home.  In the days before penalties or the away goals rule, matches finishing level on aggregate were settled by a play-off match.  Hearts went through this twice, and on both cases the play-offs were played at the other club’s venue for some reason (toss of a coin?).  They lost both of these play-off matches.

Hearts have travelled to 20 different countries for European matches (21 if you include East Germany).  This season’s Playoff Round presents the opportunity of trips to a few countries they have yet to visit, including Russia, Israel, Turkey, Romania, Cyprus and Poland.

The countries Hearts have travelled to on European duty.


Hearts made their first foray into Europe in the 1958/59 European Cup, qualifying by winning the league the previous season.  They were drawn against Standard Liege, and took an early lead in Belgium through Ian Crawford before being brought back down to earth with a bump as the home side scored 5 unanswered goals.  A 2-1 win at Tynecastle restored a small amount of pride.

Another league title two years later meant a return to the European Cup, but their second campaign was no more successful as they lost home and away to Benfica in the Preliminary Round.  In hindsight it was an unlucky draw – the Portuguese side went on to win the trophy that season, beating Barcelona in the final.

The following season, they entered the Fairs Cup, and were finally able to make it through a tie, beating Union Saint-Gilloise of Belgium home and away.  The success was short-lived, as they were brutally dispatched by Helenio Herrera’s Inter in the next round.  The aforementioned play-off defeats ended their next two Fairs Cup campaigns – Lausanne Sport eliminated them in the 1st Round in 1963/64, and Real Zaragoza beat them in Round 3 in 1965/66 (Hearts had received a bye in R1 then beaten Norwegian Valerenga in R2).

The period between 1967 and 1983 produced 4 European trophies for Scottish clubs, but this success coincided with a period in the doldrums for Hearts.  They only qualified for Europe once, entering the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1976/77 after losing the previous season’s Scottish Cup final to Rangers (who had already qualified for the European Cup as winners of the Premier League).  That Cup Winners’ Cup campaign provided one memorable night at Tynecastle against Lokomotiv Leipzig as Hearts overturned a 2-0 deficit from the first leg in East Germany by winning the home leg 5-1.  Unfortunately, Hamburg thumped them home and away in the 2nd Round.

European football became a more regular occurrence from the mid-80s onwards.  Two short-lived UEFA Cup campaigns in 1984/85 and 1986/87 saw defeats to PSG and Dukla Prague in the opening rounds, the latter courtesy of away goals.  They would have a longer run in the same competition a couple of years later.

Hearts qualified for the 1988/89 UEFA Cup as runners-up in the Premier League, and were handed a 1st Round tie against St Pat’s Athletic.  The Irish side were beaten 2-0 home and away to set up a tie with Austria Vienna.  A 0-0 draw at Tynecastle in the first leg made the away match a tough ask, but Mike Galloway scored the only goal to put Hearts through to Round 3. Yugoslavian side Velez Mostar were thumped 3-0 at Tynecastle in the first leg courtesy of goals from Eamonn Bannon, Galloway (again) and John Colquhoun.  They lost 2-1 in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina, but progressed to a Quarter-Final against Bayern Munich.  Over 26,000 fans packed into Tynecastle to see their side record a famous 1-0 win thanks to Ian Ferguson.  In the 2nd leg in Munich, the German side led at half-time thanks to Klaus Augenthaler.  With 20 minutes to go, Erland Johnsen gave Bayern a 2-0 lead, and despite their best efforts Hearts couldn’t grab the away goal which would have taken them to the semi-final

They returned to Europe for the 1990/91 UEFA Cup, eliminating Dnipro thanks to a draw in Ukraine and a 3-1 win at Tynecastle.  In the next round, a 3-1 win over Bologna at Tynecastle should have set them up for progression, but they succumbed to a 3-0 loss in Italy to bow out.  Two years later, Slavia Prague were defeated in Round 1 thanks to another Tynecastle win, but Standard Liege proved too strong in the following round.

The next decade an brought a succession of near-misses for Hearts.  1993/94’s UEFA Cup saw a famous 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid but Hearts were eliminated after losing 3-0 in Spain.  In the 1996/97 Cup Winners’ Cup, a 0-0 draw away to Red Star Belgrade set up a big night at Tynecastle, but Hearts went out on away goals after a 1-1 draw.  Two years later, a comfortable victory over Lantana Tallinn set up a tie with Real Mallorca.   The Spanish side won 1-0 at Tynecastle, but were made to endure a nervy night at home.  The 2nd leg nearly didn’t go ahead after Hearts complained that the goalposts were too high.  Mallorca took the lead just after half-time, but Jim Hamilton’s equaliser with 15 minutes to go set up a grandstand finish.  Hearts had a couple of late half-chances, but couldn’t find the goal they needed.

In the UEFA Cup 2000/01, Icelandic side IBV Vestmannaeyjar were beaten home and away to set up a tie with Stuttgart.  A 1-0 defeat in Germany set up another big night under the floodlights at Tynecastle.  Steven Pressley’s early opener was cancelled out by Sean Dundee, and when Marcelo Bordon put the Germans 2-1 up just after half-time it looked like game over.  But Hearts rallied, and Gordan Petric’s goal just after the hour mark levelled things up on the night, before Colin Cameron scored a penalty with just under 10 minutes to go to leave Hearts needing just one more goal.  Stuttgart had a man sent off for the penalty, and were reduced to 9 a few minutes later, but yet again Hearts just couldn’t find the crucial goal.

2003/04 saw Zeljeznicar Sarajevo swatted aside in Round 1 of the UEFA Cup.  Hearts were drawn against Bordeaux in Round 2, and an estimated 4500 fans travelled to France for the 1st leg.  They witnessed one of Hearts’ most impressive European away performances, with a late Mark de Vries goal sealing a 1-0 win for Craig Levein’s side.  The return leg at Tynecastle proved to be a massive disappointment though, as goals from Albert Riera and Pascal Feindouno secured a 2-0 win for the French side.

Hearts would bounce back stronger the following season, as they finally pulled off the sort of impressive victory they had been threatening for years.  A change to UEFA regulations meant that their 1st Round match against Braga had to be played at Murrayfield rather than Tynecastle.  There was initially an eerie atmosphere with 18,000 fans inside a 67,000 seater stadium, but the action on the park sparked the fans into life.  Goals from Andy Webster, Paul Hartley and Patrick Kisnorbo secured a 3-1 win for the “home” side.  In the return leg, an early goal from Joao Tomas would have stirred memories of the recent disappointments, but Hearts made sure there would be no repeat this time, with Mark de Vries scoring a double to put them 5-2 ahead on aggregate.  A late goal from Jaime Aquino was nothing more than a consolation, and Hearts progressed to the inaugural UEFA Cup Group Stage.

They would ultimately finish bottom of a group containing Feyenoord, Schalke, Basel and Ferencvaros.  On the pitch, the main highlight was a 2-1 win away to Basel, courtesy of a late goal from Robbie Neilson – his first for Hearts.  Off the field, the most memorable incident came after the final match at home to Ferencvaros (a match Hearts lost 1-0 thanks to a goal from future Hibs player Denes Rosa).  Hearts manager John Robertson became embroiled in a touchline altercation with his opposite number.  That opposing manager was a certain Csaba Laszlo, who would go on to manage at Tynecastle for two seasons.

Hearts’ next trip into Europe would come in the 2006/07 Champions League, off the back of a famous season where Hearts finished 2nd and won the Scottish Cup.  Siroki Brijeg of Bosnia-Herzegovina were comfortably beaten, setting up a tie with AEK Athens.  Over 32,000 turned out at Murrayfield for the first leg, and they were dreaming of the group stage when Saulius Mikoliunas gave Hearts the lead after an hour.  Unfortunately, Bruno Aguiar was sent off minutes later, then the Greeks hit Hearts with a late sucker punch, scoring twice in the last three minutes.  In the 2nd leg, Hearts had been giving a good account of themselves before Julian Brellier was sent off after half an hour (his first yellow card was for failing to remove an earring).  Neil McCann followed him for an early bath not long after half-time, and AEK scored three goals in the last 15 minutes against the remaining 9 men.  Hearts dropped down into the UEFA Cup, but a 2-0 defeat at home to Sparta Prague killed off their chances in that tournament.

Their most recent forays into Europe have seen them thrashed twice in Europa League Play-off Round matches.  In 2008/09 they entered that round directly but lost 4-0 away to Dinamo Zagreb.  Hearts briefly threatened to turn things around at Tynecastle, but could only manage a 2-0 victory.  Last season they saw off Paks in the 3rd Qualifying Round, drawing 1-1 in Hungary then recording a comfortable 4-1 win at Tynecastle.  That set up a glamour tie against Spurs, and Hearts were totally outclassed at Tynecastle, losing 5-0.  Some pride was restored with a 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane – with Hearts being the only club to keep a clean sheet there all season.

2012/13 Campaign

Hearts will enter at the Playoff Round, which means they need to win just one tie to make it through to the Group Stage.  Barring a ridiculous set of results in the 3rd Qualifying Round, Hearts will be unseeded.

Europa League Playoff Round

Matches: 23rd August & 30th August

The seedings for the Playoff Round won’t be finalised until after tonight’s matches are completed.  The list below is only a guide, and assumes that all of the seeded sides make it through the 3rd Qualifying Round.  The clubs in white and italics are the ones who are involved in QR3 and have to win their way through.  The orange line is the minimum cut-off point for seeding – the clubs above the line could move into the seeded pot if the results fall their way this evening, but the clubs below it are guaranteed to be unseeded.  Hearts are just above the line, and would require something in the region of 20 results to go their way in order to be seeded.



In advance of the draw, the clubs will be allocated into smaller “draw groups” in order to prevent clubs from the same country from playing each other.  This also cuts down on the draw time.  These groups are usually published in advance of the draw, so look out for them tonight or tomorrow morning.

About SPLstats
Providing statistics and trivia about Scottish football. Main focus is the SPL, but all Scottish football will be covered. Not affiliated to the SPL.

One Response to Heart of Midlothian in Europe – 2012/13

  1. Very good! Informative and up-to-date! #K19 Salt’n’Sauce

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