Robbie Neilson: Game hinged on the red card

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ROBBIE NEILSON was delighted with Hearts’ victory but admitted the outcome would have been “different” if Rangers had managed to keep 11 men on the park.

Steven Smith’s red card turned the game, the Hearts coach admitted. “I was pleased with the result, but the game hinged on the sending off. It was a big decision. Before that, we’d found it difficult to get into the game. Rangers had the upper hand and the intensity of the game and the physicality we found hard to match.

Steven Smith is given his marching orders. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Steven Smith is given his marching orders. Picture: Ian Georgeson

“This was a difficult game. Rangers are a good team. It would have been a different outcome if they’d managed to keep everyone on the pitch. We understand that and so are not going to get carried away.”

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He agreed it had been a tousy match, but hadn’t been surprised by this. “It was two teams at the top of the league competing at Tynecastle, a full house, all the atmosphere and the build-up. We had to stand up to that and we did.

“They put some challenges in and we put some in.”

Was he surprised referee Craig Thomson produced only one red card?

“The ref makes his own decision, I thought he had a decent game,” the Hearts head coach said.

Asked if he thought it was now Hearts’ league to lose, Neilson shook his head.

“Not at all. There’s still a long way to go. It’s only nine points.” He looked the calmest man at Tynecastle – was he? “The game’s done now. It’s three points. There’s no reason to go out celebrating. We come in tomorrow and get ready for the next game.”

Jason Holt, who made the breakthrough, said he was thrilled with his goal. “I just caught it sweet as anything and was delighted to see it hit the back of the net. Most importantly, it’s about the three points and we managed to get them.”

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