First Team

Craig full of praise for players and fans

25th September 2019

Craig Levein praised both his players and the Hearts faithful for securing a return to Hampden following a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory against Aberdeen.

 

It was another special night under the lights in Gorgie as Hearts and Aberdeen went toe to toe for 120 gruelling minutes before the boys in maroon sealed an impressive 3-0 on penalties.

Speaking after the match, Craig expressed his delight with his players' attitude and the backing from the stands.

“I don’t know if I have the energy to celebrate that. Every time we play Aberdeen it’s a tight match and it went right to the wire tonight. We’ve been practicing penalties since before the semi-final last year and credit to Austin and the boys for the work they put in and coming up trumps.

“We were determined on Sunday and that won us the match, we had to show guts and determination again tonight and when we play like that we can win every match, we’ve been nervous at home so far this season but what helped tonight was the size of the game, the occasion, we weren’t favourites to win and that allowed us to relax. I felt we played fantastic stuff for the first half hour, we just didn’t take our chances but it was good to see them play with some freedom and that was because of the confidence gained from the Hibs game.

“If you want to do it the hard way, we’ve done it two weeks in a row. We gave Aberdeen two goals tonight, but I don’t know how much longer we can do that and keep winning matches. With getting to the semis last season and a final, we have a taste for it and it was great to see everyone with smiles tonight and celebrating but I don’t want to go to Hampden for a day out, I want to go and win the game and then have the day out.

“The supporters were brilliant tonight, the two things go hand in hand because the way we started is how they want to see us play. Sometimes playing free flowing football without a cloudy head isn’t easy when you’re not winning, but we had some really good football in the first half and unlucky not to be in front. I thought Glenn Whelan was wonderful on Sunday and I didn’t think he could get much better but he did tonight, he was my man of the match.

“We’ll find out at the weekend if we can keep the momentum going, that’s the main focus now. I don’t know if we’ve turned the corner yet, two swallows don’t make a summer, but maybe if we get to 48 then I can say we have.”