Hearts have fallen to a 5-1 defeat to Fiorentina in their Europa Conference League group stage match, leaving the team with an almost impossible task to reach the knockout stages.
The Serie A side were comfortable winners in the Group A game, putting in a strong first-half performance to put the result beyond doubt before the break by establishing a 4-0 lead.
Luka Jovic, Cristiano Biraghi, Nicolas Gonzalez and Antonin Barak all scored in the first half and though Stephen Humphrys pulled a goal back for the visitors in the second half, Gonzalez netted his second from the penalty spot to round off the scoring.
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson had spoken before the game of the importance of taking the game to Fiorentina and he saw his side make an instant impression on the game when Humphrys hit the post and Barrie McKay’s shot was saved in the first minute..
Fiorentina quickly established their grip on the game though, forcing a save from Gordon a minute later and taking the lead just five minutes in. The hosts were allowed to put a cross into the middle and Luca Jovic rose to put a downward header past Gordon and into the net.
The Italians pushed forward and Rolando Mandragora thumped the post with a powerful shot as they threatened to add to the scoreline. On 21 minutes, they doubled their lead.
A soft-looking free-kick was awarded for a Barrie McKay foul, and Biraghi stepped up to curl a perfect shot into the top corner that Gordon was nowhere near.
The punishment continued and a third goal was scored after half an hour. Neat build-up play saw Jovic put the ball to the back post and Gonzalez was on hand to finish with relative ease.
With the final result already looking beyond doubt, Fiorentina scored a fourth seven minutes before the break. Christian Kouame cut the ball back into a dangerous area and Barak made no mistake with his finish.
There was something for Hearts fans to cheer after the restart when they pulled a goal back. Andy Halliday played in Humphrys and hit a clean shot into the far corner.
A comeback was too big an ask though, and Fiorentina were comfortable, rounding off the scoring when Gonzalez scored his second from the penalty spot after Alex Cochrane had fouled Riccardo Sapponara.
To progress in the competition, Hearts would now need to beat RFS and Istanbul Baseksahir, while hoping Fiorentina take no more than a point from their remaining games.
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