Robbie Neilson believes Hearts forward Stephen Humphrys has already secured Scotland’s goal of the season after he sealed his side’s 3-1 win over 10-man Dundee United with an audacious finish from just inside his own half.
Deep into stoppage time, with the Jambos hanging on to a 2-1 lead, the on-loan Wigan attacker picked up possession in his own box following a United corner and surged forward to the centre circle before catching keeper Mark Birighitti off his line with a perfectly-executed lob.
“I’ve been here a long time and seen a lot of goals but I can’t remember a better one,” said manager Neilson. “It was an unbelievable finish.
“As soon as it left his boot, I think we all thought ‘it’s got a chance’. It went over the keeper, then it dipped and time slowed down for everyone, I think. Outstanding.
“His goal showed you both sides of him, the pace, power and strength but also the finesse to have that final finish.
“I think goal of the season is now done in Scottish football. It will be all over the social media tonight. It’s one of those moments we will remember.”
Neilson admitted Hearts benefitted from a debatable red card for United captain Ryan Edwards. The defender was sent off following a VAR review for a robust challenge on Andy Halliday in the 29th minute while his team were leading 1-0 through Steven Fletcher’s early opener.
Hearts capitalised on the extra man with three goals in the closing 20 minutes from Lawrence Shankland, Alex Cochrane and Humphrys.
“I would be really disappointed it of was one of my players (who was shown a red card for that challenge),” said the Hearts boss. “He went in for the ball and it wasn’t high. I might be proved wrong but I didn’t think it was a red at the time.
“We were poor in the first half, we were slow in possession, didn’t move it quickly enough and were not aggressive in our passing.
“We kept going back and wide. The sending-off changed the game, made it more open and we changed our shape and managed to win the game.”
United manager Liam Fox felt the red card was pivotal and plans to appeal against it.
“My initial reaction was that it’s a really, really good tackle so that’s disappointing,” he said.
“The referee said it was excessive force, I just thought it was a good tackle.
“Maybe I’m getting old, but that’s a normal tackle in my day.
“It’s disappointing because until that point we were really good, but I am really proud of my players. Their performance was really, really good.
“That might sound silly after losing the game 3-1 but they gave me absolutely everything.”