Craig Levein has praised his players for refusing to throw in the towel against Celtic despite being 3-0 down at half time.
The Jambos’ 12-match unbeaten run came to an end at Celtic Park, though an improved performance in the second-half saw Kyle Lafferty pull a goal back to end the match 3-1.
Craig believes he saw enough in that second period to give him hope that his Hearts side can come back to Glasgow and compete with the champions over 90 minutes.
Speaking to the press at full time, he said: “We’re disappointed to lose the match. We had a gameplan to go after them and press them like we did at Tynecastle, and we lost a goal within five minutes.
“What pleased me, of course, was that we stuck at it. Celtic had opportunities in the first half but they were because of the way we played. We put a lot of players high and went man for man at times. They were going to break on us and you were hopeful that they don’t score, and they seemed to score with just about every chance in that first half.
“Half time was interesting because the question was whether we damage limitation or we try to keep doing the same thing, and we had a go in the second half. I’ve been here as a player myself and been 3-0 down and left here at 5 or 6-0, so what was good for me was we did well in the second half.
“We got a goal, we didn’t lose any more goals. It gives me some heart that we can come back and do a similar thing next time we’re here.
“I said after we won the last game at Tynecastle that things have to go our way. We have to get goals at the right time. As much as goals at the right time helped our confidence last time, this time it obviously dented our confidence.
“But I was really pleased with the second half. I asked them the question; do you want to try and get back in the game or do you want to shut up shop? They were determined to have a go in the second half.”
Harry Cochrane was an early casualty after being on the receiving end of a Scott Brown challenge, and while Craig confirmed the 16-year-old had been taken to hospital with a neck injury, he said it was too early to determine how bad it was.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It was his neck, which was the worrying thing. We were late back out for the second-half becauses the doctors were all in the dressing room. I don’t know yet. I’ll have to try and find out what’s happened.”