RFS defeated by Hearts at home, but football the winner

Latvian football champions RFS experienced their first defeat of their first ever season in European competition with a 2-0 loss to Scottish club Hearts at a sold-out Skonto stadium September 15.

The atmosphere at the ground was greatly enhanced by the presence of thousands of travelling Scots who put on a masterclass of cheering and chanting and were clearly enjoying their visit to Rīga to the maximum.

RFS went behind just before half time to a Lawrence Shankland penalty, but stayed in the match throughout and had several chances to equalize. Only deep into injury time at the end of the match did they concede a second, this time to Alan Forrest.

Despite the loss, there were few disappointed faces outside the stadium after the match. Hearts had a win and fans who need little excuse to party, while RFS showed again that they can be competitive against teams with far greater resources than themselves. Both sets of fans mixed freely and clearly enjoyed each other's company – a fine sight for football. The fact that the 'Jam tarts' traditionally play in a claret-and-white strip was a happy coincidence too, and meant that quite a lot of their fans had picked up souvenirs in Latvian colours so that at times one might have been mistaken for thinking the Latvian national team must be back playing at Skonto stadium.

It means RFS slip from second to third in their group, while the next opponents due to come to Rīga will be Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir on October 6 and Italy's legendary Fiorentina on November 11.

 

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