Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy admits he is already excited for the second leg of the Jambos’ UEFA Europa Conference League play-off tie with PAOK.
The men in maroon were ahead inside five minutes thanks to Lawrence Shankland’s spotkick but the Greeks responded instantly with a penalty of their own, before Andrija Živković’s second half strike, which was enough to send PAOK back to Thessaloniki with a 2-1 first leg lead.
Speaking to Hearts TV at full-time McAvoy said:
“We’re disappointed with the result, but it’s fine moments on big occasions like this.
“We got off to the perfect start with the penalty kick, but in those moments after, we just have to defend those situations a bit better.
“I felt it was nip and tuck after they equalised. We knew they would be a threat in transition, but we knew we could cause them problems when we get into good areas in the final third.
“Their goalkeeper made a couple of fantastic saves, and we knew we just had to keep going. We knew what we had on the bench and with Shanks’ goal it turns from elation to a sour note.
“Then it’s a double whammy when they score from the corner kick. Our set-up in the main from set plays was very good and I think you have to credit the strike. Sometimes, they can go anywhere, but unfortunately for us tonight, that wee bit of luck just deserted us.
“I’m excited for the second leg in Greece. We know what we have to do. We have to go and win the game, but I think we are capable of doing that. It’s about belief, and there is a lot of that within the squad.
“The backing again from the support was magnificent. I can’t thank them enough. I think you can see how much we have come on since myself, Naisy and Gordy have come in. I think we have improved and can be a hard nut to crack at times.
“So, we’ll be there. We’ll be full of enthusiasm and confidence to hopefully try and get the win next week.”