Frankie McAvoy is adamant Hearts are capable of turning around their Europa Conference League play-off against PAOK in Greece next week despite suffering a frustrating 2-1 first-leg defeat at Tynecastle.

Lawrence Shankland’s early penalty gave the Jambos a lead but it was swiftly cancelled out by a spot-kick from Stefan Schwab.

Shankland then had a goal ruled out for offside following a VAR check before a 75th-minute strike against the run of the play from Andrija Zivkovic gave the Greeks a crucial advantage.

Hearts must now pull off a victory in the intimidating Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki next Thursday if they are to qualify for the group stage, but McAvoy remains optimistic.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game and a tight affair,” said the head coach. “It was disappointing that we scored then they got a penalty so early after it.

“Then we score with Shanks and the elation then turned to a sour note when it got chopped off. Then they score from a corner.

“As for emotions, I’m disappointed with the result but in spells I felt our shape without the ball was really good. They’re a good team and they try to hit on the counter and there were some pleasing moments.

“We know what we’ve got to do now – we’ve got to win the game and I believe it’s possible for us to do that. That’s what we’ve got to look forward to in the next leg.

“We just need to make sure we’re prepared as best we can for going to Greece next week knowing that we’ve got to go and win the game.”

McAvoy believes Hearts showed in Thursday’s first leg that they have enough attacking threats to score in Greece next week.

“I thought when we got into good areas we caused them problems,” he said. “First half their keeper made a fantastic save from Shanks, so we know we’ll create chances.

“I think our wide players could cause them issues. We’ve got a good squad. We’ll deal with Dundee as best we can (in the cinch Premiership on Sunday) then really focus on what we’ve got to do in Greece.

“We’ve come a long way since myself, Steven Naismith and Gordon Forrest came in (as a management team at the end of last season) and the players have great belief in themselves.

“That’s important going forward and we’ll have that at the forefront of our minds when we go to Greece next week.”

Hearts suffered a further setback as they lost Barrie McKay to injury midway through the setback.

“It’s too early to say, he felt something in his knee,” said McAvoy, when asked about the extent of the problem. “The guys have to assess it to find how bad it is but it’s too early at the moment.”

Frankie McAvoy savoured “a special occasion” at a packed Tynecastle as Hearts staged a stunning fightback to edge out Rosenborg in a dramatic Europa Conference League qualifier.

Cammy Devlin scored the decisive goal in stoppage time to secure a 3-1 win on the night and a 4-3 aggregate triumph, setting up a play-off round showdown with Greek side PAOK.

Head coach McAvoy believes it was a night to remember for the packed Tynecastle crowd as the Jambos clawed their way back into the match after trailing 3-1 on aggregate six minutes into the second leg.

“It was a roller coaster of emotions at the side of the pitch,” he said.

“We lost an early goal, which wasn’t ideal if I’m honest with you. And we looked a little tentative at the beginning, I don’t know if the occasion got to some of us.

“But character sums up the team. We came back, 3-1 down on aggregate, to win 4-3 on the night and the players deserve immense credit.

“The support drove us on, it was a special occasion. Tynecastle under the lights is difficult and daunting for anyone.

“Rosenborg are a good team, you saw that tonight. They had more of the ball than they did last week and they were more in our faces.

“So over the piece I am delighted for everyone connected with Hearts that we’re through to the next round.

“The ultras behind the goal really make it a big occasion in Scottish football and it is great to see. I can’t speak highly enough of them.

“They drove us on and that’s fantastic. Everyone talks about cliches of a 12th man, they were that tonight.”

Captain Lawrence Shankland started the fightback in the first half before Devlin – not renowned for his goal-scoring – sealed the deal with a double after the break.

McAvoy praised the Australian for his willingness to get forward from his deep-lying midfield role.

“I’m delighted for Cammy,” he said. “We like him. He’s done really well for us since we’ve come in. We’re delighted with him.

“The good thing is he’s getting forward and into the box, which is one of the things we have asked him to do. For me, he is a fantastic young player, a great squad member and we’re delighted with his contribution tonight.”

Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy is happy his side will take to the pitch at Tynecastle next week with their European hopes still alive following a 2-1 defeat by Rosenborg in Norway.

It was a tough first half for Hearts in the first leg of their Europa Conference League third round qualifier at the Lerkendal Stadion as Emil Frederiksen put the home side ahead in the 14th minute before Jayden Nelson made it 2-0 in added time.

The Jambos asserted themselves after the break and pulled a goal back in the 78th minute through skipper Lawrence Shankland on his 28th birthday to give the Edinburgh side better prospects of recovering the tie in the second leg next Thursday in Gorgie.

McAvoy told Hearts TV: “We are obviously disappointed to lose the game 2-1 but the tie is alive which is the least that we hoped that we could do.

“We made a few mistakes in the first half but that is about us encouraging players to be brave on the ball, we’ve done that so we accept that responsibility as a coaching team.

“We had a lot of possession in the first half but we’re probably a wee bit too safe, if I’m honest.

“We changed that a wee bit in a second half and you could see that we get more impetus, more forward, penetrating passes and I thought that the least we deserved was the goal which we are delighted with and obviously not losing again because their strength is in transition, they are very good at it.

“But it’s all to play for in front of a capacity crowd at Tynecastle so we believe we can go there and hopefully get the job done.”

Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy is expecting a “real tough game” when his side come up against Rosenborg in the UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round first-leg in Norway.

The Jambos will be looking to make it to the group stage for the second consecutive year but need to beat the 26-time Norwegian champions and would then meet either Hajduk Split or PAOK if they are to play in the main draw again, and McAvoy is not underestimating their opponents.

He told a press conference: “We are expecting a real tough game if I’m honest.

“I think they are undefeated in six as well so that shows what kind of form they are on but we are prepared as best as we can coming here.

“It’s a big game there’s no doubt about that, we’ve set a few aims for ourselves to try and qualify to get into the group stages, we’ve got a tough opponent there’s no doubt about that.

“We will do our utmost, do our best here to take a good positive result back to a full house at Tynecastle and that can be a daunting task for anybody.”

Hearts started their league campaign in style on Saturday with a 2-0 win over St Johnstone thanks to goals from Yutaro Oda and Lawrence Shankland.

In contrast, Rosenborg sit eighth in Norway’s Eliteserien but have recently seen an upturn in form, winning each of their last four league games.

McAvoy continued: “In terms of match sharpness they are probably ahead of us but there’s no reason why we can’t come here and do extremely well and that’s what we are hoping to do.

“But we’ve got a good competitive group, we believe we have a good squad and we are hoping we can come here and do ourselves justice tomorrow night.

“You can see when you walk down the tunnel, you can see their record in Europe but they have brought a new manager in and have started to do well. They’ve played Scottish competition before and know what they will be coming up against.”

Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy praised his players after they overcame first-half rustiness to secure an impressive 2-0 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on the cinch Premiership’s opening day.

In a close game that began after a short delay with a VAR power failure, Yutaro Oda eventually gave Hearts the lead with 15 minutes to go with a superb low strike and Lawrence Shankland sealed the win deep into stoppage time with a tap-in after unselfish play from Liam Boyce.

McAvoy – who was given the job in June on a full-time basis, alongside technical director Steven Naismith – also admitted relief as the Tynecastle side started the season with a victory ahead of Thursday’s Europa Conference League qualifier against Rosenborg.

He said: “I’m probably relieved for myself and the background team but delighted for the players and the supporters who I thought were fantastic.

“They came out in big numbers so delighted we’ve managed to get the three points and keep a clean sheet.

“The VAR breaking down before the game started probably didn’t help us much and it allowed them to settle a bit and put pressure on us.

“We know we were a bit rusty. St Johnstone have had more competitive games.

“You can have pre-season games like we’ve had but it’s not the real stuff. We knew that we just needed to be at it today and we felt as the game went on we got a wee bit better.”

Hearts gave competitive debuts to new signings Frankie Kent and Calem Nieuwenhof from the start, while Kyosuke Tagawa and Alex Lowry made debuts from the bench.

Lowry signed on loan from Rangers just yesterday and he was singled out for praise by McAvoy, who was pleased with the impact of his substitutes.

He added: “We’re delighted with the impact the subs made in the game and you can see the quality they’ve added. That’s great for the squad because we need strength in depth and we need them being really competitive.

“You can see that (Alex) Lowry’s got a bit of quality. We knew that. He’s coming from a massive club in Rangers as well. We’re delighted that he wanted to come here which was pleasing.

“He had a lot of options on the table and he chose to come here which is credit to him. He had the chance to go down south but he felt like we play in the right manner.”

St Johnstone boss Steven MacLean, meanwhile, was pleased with the reaction from his players after last week’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to Stirling Albion.

Despite not getting anything from the game, Saints competed for large periods and could have taken the lead through Liam Gordon and Graham Carey before Hearts’ breakthrough.

MacLean said: “I thought our performance was a lot better. We worked very hard for each other. We’re going to be a work in progress.

“Liam Gordon had a great chance and we had another couple of opportunities as well and you’ve got to take your chances against the better teams in the league – any games in fact.

“In terms of attitude, performance and work-rate, I’m happy with them.

“I think when you look at it, it’s one long ball into the box and we don’t win the first contact and the boy scores.

“That’s the difference today. If you look at Hearts’ bench, what they had to bring on and the difference from ours.

“I’m happy with my squad and I’m happy with my team today. We’ll get better going forward, we’ll bring in some more bodies and we will improve.”

Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy hailed an “excellent” warm weather training camp as the Jambos get ready for the new season.

The Gorgie squad are in Spain this week and have several training sessions in the fitness bank ahead of the friendly against Championship side Plymouth on Thursday.

Steven Naismith was handed a two-year contract following his term as interim manager at the end of last season but his title was changed to technical director. The former Scotland international is working towards his required Pro Licence coaching qualification.

Former Hearts academy director McAvoy was named head coach, with Gordon Forrest also remaining as first-team coach and all three are putting the Hearts players through their paces with a view to a positive start to the 2023/24 season.

McAvoy, who was quoted stressing that he would call the shots in terms of team selection next season – “ultimately I’ll decide who plays” – told Hearts’ official website: “The first few days have been excellent.

“The three of us have worked extremely hard with the players to bring them up to speed as quick as we can.

“We’re coming up against Plymouth on Thursday and we need to make sure they’re in the best shape that they can be in a short period of time.

“There’s been some tough sessions for them so far.

“A key consideration is building camaraderie within the group which is massive.

“These trips aren’t a holiday, far from it. We want a strong group that knows each other well. We want to identify areas where we’re strong, and areas where we need to improve.

“After the seven games at the end of last season, we can start to see that come to fruition.

“It’s early stages but we’re hopeful that we can kick on even further. The campaign we’re facing is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. Starting well, having a good pre-season, puts us in good stead.”

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