Sport

Europa Conference League: Istanbul Basaksehir defeat Hearts 3-1 in Turkey

Hearts’ Europa Conference League season came to an end with a 3-1 defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir, but there was some hope for Robbie Neilson’s players at the Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadium.

What happened in the game?

Youssouf Ndayishimiye headed in a corner after just four minutes in Turkey’s final Group A match, and while the visitors worked their way back into the game, they went further down in the 33rd minute to a Serdar Gurler goal due to a mistake by goalie Craig Gordon.

Substitute Berkay Ozcan scored in the 64th minute after coming in, while Hearts defender Nathaniel Atkinson added a consolation goal in the 90th.

The hosts, who won 4-0 at Tynecastle in September, finished first in Group A, ahead of Fiorentina, and both will advance.

With several key players still out injured, the game began with a much-changed Jambos team filled with youth, and boss Neilson can be pleased with elements of the game and the experience acquired.

The third-placed Jambos had no hope of progressing, so Neilson made a slew of changes with Atkinson, Lewis Neilson, Jorge Grant, Cammy Devlin, Alan Forrest, and Euan Henderson all coming in with one eye on Sunday’s clinching Premiership game against Motherwell.

Gordon equaled the record of fellow goalkeeper Henry Smith and ex-skipper Steven Pressley by appearing in 22 games for the Jambos in European competition.

Meanwhile, Basaksehir made two changes to the team that defeated Gorgie, with Junior Caicara and Ndayishimiye starting, and it was the latter who handed the home side an early lead.

After only 90 seconds, Stefano Okaka snuck a shot past the post from 12 yards, but the Edinburgh side failed to heed the warning, and Ndayishimiye had all the time and space he needed to head past the helpless Gordon from a Deniz Turuc corner.

Hearts pushed forward quickly and impressively, as Henderson drove over from 20 yards to put the home side under pressure all over the pitch.

However, shortly after the half-hour mark, Gordon sprinted from his goal to prevent Okaka from getting on the end of a long pass from defense, but he failed to connect properly, and Gurler took his time before blasting into the net past defender Toby Sibbick, who had retreated to the line.

Gordon made a double save from Bertrand Traore as the visitors faltered, but the Tynecastle side finished the first half strong.

However, the Turkish side came out strong in the second half, and Ndayishimiye got another free header from a corner in the 56th minute, but this time his shot sailed wide.

Just after the hour mark, Neilson replaced Forrest, Henderson, and Connor Smith with Josh Ginnelly, Barrie McKay, and Lawrence Shankland.

However, after defender Alex Cochrane lost possession following a Gordon throw-in, Omer Ali Sahiner squared for Ozcan, who sorted out his feet before smashing the ball high into the net.

Hearts pressed on, hoping to give their travelling fans something to cheer about, and they succeeded in the 90th minute when keeper Muhammed Sengezer parried a shot from Shankland, with Atkinson on hand to knock the ball into the net.

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