Hearts manager Robbie Neilson was delighted with his players’ efforts against Zurich, and says they have set up “an entertaining night” at Tynecastle for the decisive second leg.
Lawrence Shankland put the Premiership side ahead from the penalty spot in the Europa League play-off first leg, but Zurich equalised and quickly established a 2-1 lead that they take into next week’s match.
Hearts have a lot to do to turn around the tie and reach the group stage of the competition, but Neilson believes they showed they can be a match for Zurich already.
“I thought the players were outstanding today,” he told Hearts TV.
“We started the game well, got the goal, and losing those two goals in quick succession rocked us a wee bit. The boys responded really well, to come here against the Swiss champions with talented players – a really good team – and we held our own.
“We created chances and yeah, we rode our luck at times, but that’s part of football.”
The manager now thinks that the team can capitalise on the atmosphere the Hearts faithful can provide at Tynecastle.
He said: “We’ve got a chance: we go back to Tynecastle next Thursday and with 20,000 fans screaming their heads off – it’s going to be an entertaining night.
“I’m pleased for Lawrence to get off the mark in Europe; it’s great for him and great for the players. The two goals are disappointing and we should have stopped them; a direct ball over the top for the first and a cross we should deal with for the second.
“They were very clinical and it’s a learning curve for everyone at this level. We don’t have a lot of guys who have played at this level but we showed that we can hold our own and we can take confidence from that going into next week’s game.”