Disappointed Hearts boss Robbie Neilson says his side can can hold their heads high after pushing Celtic close in the cup final – and proved they can compete with the best.
Hearts fought back from 2-0, and then 3-2 down to take the Scottish Cup final to penalties but missed out on lifting the trophy as Celtic completed a fourth consecutive domestic treble.
Neilson admitted the loss was difficult but that the performance showed his side were capable of playing at the highest level, despite currently being in the Championship.
“It shows that we can compete with some of the best teams in Scotland,” he said.
“People thought we were going to come here and get swatted aside but we have belief in ourselves.
“We were put down in the Championship but we are a Premiership team. We’ve proven that today.
“Though we’re disappointed with the outcome, the performance was fantastic. If you take that into a league game you win 99 out of 100.
“We have to take the positives from it. The main objective at the start of the season is the league and this was a bonus for us.”
The Tynecastle side had to pick themselves up after Ryan Christie curled a shot into the top corner, then Odsonne Edouard scored from the spot to give Celtic a 2-0 lead at half time.
Neilson said that despite that his side had put in a performance to be proud of, and that there was slight regret they hadn’t kicked on to win after drawing themselves level.
“I think the biggest thing is that we were coming in here as outsiders, underdogs, and then we probably had the better of the game, probably had the better chances,” he said.
“We knew Celtic would have a lot of possession and they scored a wonder goal and a penalty kick. Though they had a lot of possession, we contained them.
“The disappointing thing for us is that we put ourselves in a position to win but couldn’t get it over the line.”