Igor Rossi says second place remains Hearts’ target and believes the defeat at Ibrox – in new coach Ian Cathro’s first game – was down to the match officials “giving in to the Rangers pressure” and disallowing a legitimate goal for the Tynecastle side.
Despite Hearts now trailing Rangers by five points, the Brazilian defender said: “Of course, we can still catch them up.”
But Rossi is in no doubt Saturday’s 2-0 defeat in Govan pivoted on the late flag from assistant Stuart Stevenson that cut short Hearts’ celebrations over a Don Cowie strike that would have opened the scoring after 17 minutes.
Photographs seemed to show that Lee Wallace was fractionally playing Cowie onside when the shot was struck by Callum Paterson that the midfielder turned in.
“I don’t know why it [the flag] took so long. About ten or 15 seconds after the goal was given, he gave in to the Rangers pressure and gave it offside. If it goes to 1-0, then it is another game. I looked at it afterwards on the video and, for me, it wasn’t offside,” said Rossi. “After Rangers got the opening goal [in 29 minutes] at their home ground in front of these fans, it becomes so much more difficult.
“At 1-0 Hearts it would have been a different game: Rangers would have to have become more offensive and Hearts could keep their defensive line which was good and hit them on the counter-attack. If Hearts had scored first it would definitely have been another game.”
Hearts are now in another era with 30-year-old Cathro in charge of a senior football team for the first time, and, while Rossi considers it is too early to assess how the club’s playing set-up might change, the installation of the former Rio Alves, Valencia and Newcastle coach has had a personal benefit for the defender.
“He has only been here for one week, and we have talked every day, but Ian needs more time to give his opinions on the team,” added Rossi.
“The same eleven started, but I think Ian needs more time. For me, it has been good, because Ian speaks Portuguese. This for me is better.
“Ian talks [both] Portuguese and Spanish and it is good for me to have someone who can communicate to me like that. I was surprised when he came in on the first day and started speaking to me in Portuguese, I was like ‘what? you speak Portuguese’. For me, it is good, because Robbie Neilson used to just speak English, even though he would talk to me every day.”