Craig Gordon delivered an error-strewn display, on a night where he equalled Hearts’ European appearance record, as his battling side went down 3-1 to Istanbul Başakşehir.
A fourth minute header from Youssouf Ndayishimiye dampened any early hope Hearts may have had, before Serder Gurler took advantage of the veteran goalkeeper’s mistimed lunge to slide the ball into an empty net for two.
Berkay Ozcan came off the bench and made it three just after the hour mark, after Gordon had thrown the ball out too quickly to Alex Cochrane to put his side under pressure, which ultimately led to the game being put to bed.
Nathaniel Atkinson grabbed a late consolation after some excellent work by youngster Finlay Pollock, which seemed nothing less than the Gorgie side deserved for their efforts.
Hearts travelled to Turkey with only pride left to play for, whilst their hosts knew that win would secure top spot in Group A ahead of the also already qualified Fiorentina.
Robbie Neilson made 6 changes from his side’s weekend win at Ross County, as Euan Henderson came in up front for his first start since April 2021 against Raith Rovers.
The Gorgie side made the worst possible start, going behind after just four minutes.
Burundi midfielder Ndayishimiye peeled away from Lewis Neilson at a corner to nod past Gordon, on a record equalling night for the stopper.
Goal scorer Ndayishimiye may have counted himself lucky to still be on the park 10 minutes later, after the officials failed to spot his studs connecting with the calf of Jorge Grant.
Hearts were seeing their fair share of the ball but just after the half hour mark they were two down.
Craig Gordon came rushing out of his box in an attempt to clear a through pass, only to mistime his lunge and let Serder Gurler in to dispatch into an empty net.
Ndayishimiye almost got his second of the match, 10 minutes into the second half. The midfielder found himself free at another corner, but this time seen his header sail wide of Craig Gordon’s right-hand post.
Robbie Neilson introduced Lawrence Shankland, Josh Ginnelly and Barrie Mckay in an attempt to get back into the game on 65 minutes.
Frustratingly for Hearts, before any of the trio had a touch of the ball, Istanbul Başakşehir added another goal to their lead.
Craig Gordon threw a questionably quick ball towards Alex Cochrane who was robbed by Omer Sahiner on the right wing.
The winger found fellow substitute Berkay Ozcan in the middle of the penalty area, who clinically finished with his first act of the game.
Heart managed to get a late consolation, becoming the first team to score in Istanbul this campaign in the process.
Substitute Pollock created space for himself on the right, before finding Shankland whose shot was parried into the path of the advancing Atkinson to give the travelling fans something to cheer into the night.