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Europa Conference League draw: Hearts face trips to Italy, Turkey at Latvia in group stages

© Malcolm Mackenzie/ProSports/ShutterstockHearts fans cheer on their side against FC Zurich
Hearts fans cheer on their side against FC Zurich

Hearts fans will have matches against sides from Italy, Turkey and Latvia to look forward to as they make their debut in the Europa Conference League group stages.

The Edinburgh side were drawn with Serie A side Fiorentina, İstanbul Başakşehir and Latvians RFS in Group A of the competition.

It’s the first time Hearts have played in any group stage of European football since the 2004-05 season.

They dropped down to the competition after losing out to FC Zurich in the Europa League group stage play-off.

Boss Robbie Neilson was proud of his Hearts players for putting the Swiss champions under “massive pressure” before Jorge Grant’s second-half red card swung the tie back in favour of the visitors.

“I’m very proud of the players,” he said. “I thought they were outstanding. There’s a lot of pride. For the first 60 minutes, I thought we were outstanding. I thought we were the better team. We took on the Swiss champions and put them under massive pressure.

“The sending off changes the game and made it very difficult. There is a disappointment, but, overall, pride in the players, the club, the fans and the board.”

Zurich were drawn in Arsenal’s group in the Europa League, alongside PSV who were knocked out of the Champions League by Rangers earlier this week.

Norwegian side Bodo / Glimt, who knocked Celtic out of last year’s Europa Conference League, are the fourth side in the Gunners’ group.

Elsewhere in the competition, Neil Lennon will be heading to Old Trafford after his Cypriot side Omonia were drawn in Manchester United’s group alongside Real Sociedad and Sherriff Tiraspol.

Back in the Europa Conference League, West Ham were drawn in Group B with FCSB, Anderlecht and Silkeborg.