Robbie Neilson was thrilled to see his Hearts side produce a thrilling comeback to defeat second-placed Aberdeen 2-1 on Friday night.
Simon Church opened the scoring for the Dandies as they threatened to run riot in a blistering opening twenty minutes, before the Jambos found their footing and two goals from Juanma earned the home side an impressive victory.
“It was a good way to end what’s been a difficult week for the lads,” said Robbie. “We had a good performance at Celtic Park, and then we were just floored by the virus, so the players struggled a bit today, but it’s an amazing result.
“We were lucky to only be one goal down after the first twenty minutes, but once we got a foothold in the game, the fans’ backing saw us through and pushed us on.
“We knew the character was there in the team, and the big crowd inspires us whenever we’re here under the lights. If you’re struggling, it gives you extra energy and a real lift.”
Aberdeen started on the front foot and Hearts struggled to cope during the opening stages,but soon started to get a feel for the game and began to impose themselves.
“It took twenty minutes for us to start doing what we’d told the players to do before the game,” he continued. “They put us on the back foot to begin with but they couldn’t keep up the tempo, and we started to get some momentum after that.
“I picked a team that, tactically, I thought could get us the win, but if I’m honest it was the fittest side I had to put out after the last week. The lads were seriously struggling late on and I had to pick and choose who to take off.
“I could have subbed off half of them, but I thought they coped brilliantly and we saw the game out really well.”
The gaffer saved special praise for the match winner Juanma, whose two strikes saw him join the departed Osman Sow on twelve goals for the season.
“Juanma is an excellent player, and we haven’t been playing to his strengths at all lately,” he admitted. “Today we started supplying him, and when we give him the service, he and the other players start to believe he can beat everyone.
“He needed a spell out the team to learn a few things about Scottish football, but two goals in a huge game will give him great confidence, and he’ll be crucial for us in the run-in now.”