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Alex Cochrane and Hearts positive despite Europa League first-leg defeat

Alex Cochrane is eyeing the Europa League group stage (Jeff Holmes/PA)
Alex Cochrane is eyeing the Europa League group stage (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Alex Cochrane feels Hearts have given themselves “a right chance” of reaching the Europa League group stage.

The Jambos went down to a 2-1 defeat against FC Zurich in a tightly-contested play-off first leg in Switzerland on Thursday, leaving the tie delicately poised ahead of the Tynecastle return next week.

Defender Cochrane believes a raucous home support can help Hearts overcome the one-goal deficit and book their place in the tournament proper.

“The tie’s still alive going to ‘Tynie’ next week,” he told Hearts TV. “It’s a massive game for us and with a packed Tynecastle we feel like we’ve got a right chance.

“We’re positive and looking forward to next week.”

The Jambos went ahead in St Gallen midway through the first half through a Lawrence Shankland penalty before being swiftly pegged back by the Swiss champions.

Despite trailing at the halfway stage of the tie, Cochrane was content with the outcome of the first leg as it ensures Hearts – who visit Celtic in the cinch Premiership this Sunday – still have a realistic opportunity of making it to the group stage.

“It was nice to get a lead early doors, then we lost the two goals but we stayed in the game and didn’t concede any more,” he said.

“It’s a good result to take to next week. It will be a great occasion for us and the fans.”

Cochrane was impressed by the backing Hearts received from the 800 supporters who travelled to Switzerland.

“It was brilliant,” he said. “Seeing them from the warm-up and seeing them make the noise, it was fantastic. Thank you to them all for coming.”