Barrie McKay: First-half show against FC Zurich will stand Hearts in good stead

The Jambos had the Swiss champions on the ropes at Tynecastle before Jorge Grant’s sending off early in the second half.

By Press Association Published: 27 August 2022 - 10.41am

Barrie McKay believes Hearts’ dominant first-half performance against FC Zurich on Thursday can stand them in good stead for their Europa Conference League adventure.

The Jambos had the Swiss champions on the ropes at Tynecastle before Jorge Grant’s sending off early in the second half took the sting out of their bid to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit in their Europa League play-off.

The Jambos parachute into the Conference League, where they were pitted alongside Serie A outfit Fiorentina, Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir and Latvian club RFS in Friday’s group-stage draw.

“It was a good occasion, the fans got right behind us from the start and players fed off that energy,” said McKay. “You could see that in the first-half performance especially.

“We were brilliant, it’s probably one of the best performances we’ve had.

“Going into the next set of European fixtures, it gives us real belief that we can compete at that level, create chances and do really well.”

It was confirmed on Saturday morning that Hearts would kick off their Conference League campaign at home to the Turks on September 8, with the glamour double-header against Fiorentina taking place over back-to-back weeks in October.

Robbie Neilson’s side return to cinch Premiership action on Sunday when they host St Johnstone.

Influential defender Stephen Kingsley faces a fitness check after a hamstring issue which made him “touch and go” for Thursday’s game forced him to go off in the closing stages. Toby Sibbick and Alex Cochrane are suspended.

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