'Huge learning curve': Hearts manager Robbie Neilson assesses Fiorentina defeat, has say on Lewis Neilson red card and gives Michael Smith update

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson conceded his team were given a football lesson by Fiorentina after going down 3-0 to the Italian team at Tynecastle.

Goals from Rolando Mondragora, Christian Kouame and Luka Jovic condemned the Jambos to defeat on matchday three of the Europa Conference League, with the Serie A outfit going above them in Group A and dropping Hearts to third.

Their cause was not helped by an early second-half red card to Lewis Neilson which all but sealed their fate when 2-0 down.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’m disappointed with the result,” said Neilson. “I think this is a huge learning curve, playing against a very good Fiorentina team.

Robbie Neilson urges his team forward during the match against Fiorentina.

“The disappointing thing for me was the goals we conceded, for all the possession they had in good areas, the goals were poor.

“When you play against a level of opposition like Fiorentina, that was the first time a few of the players have played at that level.

“I thought there were areas of the park where we did well and contained them. But if you stop and if you switch off for even half a second you lose goals.

“I felt we were reactive as opposed to be proactive. We need to be proactive and believe what is going to happen rather than wait for it.

“We’re in a good position, sitting on three points. Obviously the result in Riga [a 0-0 draw with Istanbul Basaksehir] changes it a little bit, but I still expect Istanbul to pull away. Next week is going to be pivotal for us. Going away to Fiorentina is going to be extremely difficult, but if we take something from that game, it keeps it alive.

“This season is a huge learning curve for us. We have to learn to do it on Thursday night then do it again on Sunday.”

On the Neilson red card, which was given on 49 minutes for the defender denying Jovic a goalscoring opportunity, the manager continued: “I think it’s a red card, Lewis has been fantastic for us the last five or six weeks since he came into the team.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s a huge learning curve, an 18-year-old kid playing against a £62million striker who played for Real Madrid. He has made a bad decision and and it’s a red card.

“He’ll be disappointed but we have already spoken to him about it and we’ll move on.”

Neilson also confirmed that defender Michael Smith came off due to a “tight hamstring”.

Read More
Hearts player ratings: Chastening night for Jambos as unfortunate starter gets 3...