Robbie Neilson makes Hearts 'least players of anyone' claim after squeezing past Livingston on penalties

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson was delighted to have come through a Scottish Cup penalty shoot out and although he ruefully stated that he wished they had done that in the 2020 cup final, he knows that his men remain in a position to right that wrong this season.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson during the Scottish Cup tie against Livingston at Tynecastle.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson during the Scottish Cup tie against Livingston at Tynecastle. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

In the previous spot-kicks against Celtic, they were left wanting, but a combination of clinical finishing and some imposing goalkeeping from Scotland’s number 1, Craig Gordon saw them through to the quarter-finals this time.

“If I was an opposition player stepping up and Craig Gordon was in goal I would have a squeaky bum, that’s for sure!” said Neilson.

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“It’s massive for us, I just wish we’d done it 18 months ago!

“I thought they all struck their penalties really well. We asked them to go and pick their spot and go and hit it and to their credit they did that.”

With Christian Montano’s effort coming back off the post, it allowed Gordon to seal progress by saving Ayo Obileye’s penalty and wrap up the contest without Hearts’ top scorer Liam Boyce even having to take his effort.

“It was a tough game and we knew it would be,” said Neilson. “Livingston are a very good team they have caused a lot of upsets this season.

“We’re off the back of eight games in 26 days, and we have used the least amount of players of anyone in the league during that spell. Some teams have used 13, 14 players more.

“So it was always going to be tough to get through it.

“But at the start [after the winter break] we said: ‘Look, can we get through in the cup and extend our lead in the league?’

“We have got through in the cup and instead of being five points clear we are ten points clear.

“The boys will get a few days off now and hopefully that will bring the energy back.”

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