Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon admits they might have to produce more backs-to-the-wall performances throughout their European run after sealing a clinical 3-0 win at Motherwell.
Gordon needed to be on form to repel a Motherwell side that had 25 shots at goal but the post also came to his aid three times as well as an offside flag which was raised after Louis Moult potentially denied teammate Kevin van Veen a goal with a deft and possibly unnecessary touch from close range.
It was a second win in three days for Hearts, who had beaten RFS 2-0 in Latvia in the Europa Conference League, and they relied on the bulk of the side that won abroad on Thursday, with both Lawrence Shankland and Alan Forrest on target in each game.
Gordon said: “I really don’t know how Motherwell didn’t score against us. It was backs-to-the-wall at times for us.
“It’s always that little bit more difficult coming off the back of a European game. We had to grind it out at Fir Park.
“But I was really pleased with how we dug in and the character we showed when we weren’t playing very well. We stayed in the game and we were dangerous on the counter.
“Motherwell played some very good football and they look a very good team so it was pleasing to get out of Fir Park with all three points and a clean sheet – even if I’m not quite sure how we managed it.
“We rode our luck at times. We have to be honest about that. But we’ve seen the game out for a vital three points that takes us to third place and where we want to be.
“It’s really pleasing given the amount of European football we have played that we are in third place going into the break.
“There will be days we play better, for sure, and hopefully there are more of those performances than the games we grind out. But if we have to we know we can grind results out. We’ve got the togetherness in the squad to help us do that.”
Hearts had lost Craig Halkett to injury in Latvia during an aborted comeback and Alex Cochrane and Stephen Kingsley both went off with knocks at Fir Park as Gordon carried on with a bump to the knee.
“It’s a lot of football we have played and it’s going to be difficult,” the 39-year-old Scotland international said.
“That’s going to be the case on more occasions in future. We have to get used to the demands of playing so many games. It’s going to take its toll.
“It’s been hectic and the rest of the boys now have a chance to put their feet up for a while before we resume again. I think we need it but it’s pleasing where we are at the minute.”