Steven Naismith hailed match-winner Alex Lowry as a special talent after the on-loan Rangers player’s late goal sent Hearts into the Viaplay Cup semi-finals.
Kilmarnock were in the ascendancy as the match edged closer to extra time, only for Lowry to strike in time added on to the regulation 90 minutes.
Brad Lyons had earlier cancelled out Jorge Grant’s opener before Lowry claimed his first goal since moving on loan to Tynecastle last month to seal the victory.
Naismith praised Lowry as one of the best young Scottish talents in the game but said he wanted to see more from the 20-year-old on a consistent basis.
The Hearts manager said: “Alex has got brilliant ability.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen in my whole footballing career a young Scottish player that I have been working with that has got such good … he can do things with a ball that a lot of others can’t.
“I’ve challenged him to see more moments like that.
“He’s been frustrated at not getting more game time but I said to him, you need to show moments and when you are on the park, you need to do more.”
Naismith was pleased to have a Hampden Park semi-final to look forward to but warned that his team would need to follow up that result, starting with a trip to play Ross County this weekend.
He added: “I was delighted to get through. It was the next step we needed to take.
“At this club there’s a demand to get to semi-finals and finals and ultimately win silverware.
“It’s a big win and everybody’s delighted but we do need to back that up.
“Over the past few seasons we haven’t had good performances at Kilmarnock, and Ross County has been the same.”
Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes admitted he was frustrated that his players had unnecessarily chased a winning goal rather than waiting for extra time.
He said: “I was angry [at full-time] that we’ve allowed that type of goal to decide the cup tie. We had Hearts where we wanted them. We were in charge of that tie in the second half.
“We played the last phase of play as if we needed a goal to get back in the tie. We were guilty of trying to win it then. We were too excitable, too gung-ho to win a game of football in 90 minutes when we could have won the game in extra time.
“It was all last-gasp and unnecessary, almost as if we were chasing a game to win it in 90 minutes when we didn’t need to. We could – and should – have won it in extra time. But we allowed an opportunity for Hearts and they took it.”
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