Having beaten the double treble winners already this season, Peter Haring says there is no reason why Hearts cannot repeat that feat and earn a spot in the first domestic cup final of the season.
The current Premiership leaders gathered together in the aftermath of Wednesday night’s high-octane quarter-final victory over Motherwell, and watched as they were matched with Celtic for the 28 October double header at Hampden and the Austrian says the mood was fairly buoyant.
“We don’t get to decide who we play against and have to take it as it comes,” he said. “But there was a pretty good atmosphere in the dressing room when we saw that we will play against Celtic. We have already beaten them this season so why not again?
“Of course, we will play them in Glasgow, at Hampden, so it will be different but to know that we have already beaten them, that should make us feel comfortable and feel good about it.”
The last time the two sides squared up, it was Kyle Lafferty who scored the only goal, although Haring delivered one of a number of top quality performances that day, but the fact the match winner is now at Rangers is not an issue according to one of the men to get their names on the scoresheet in midweek and help secure the Hampden showdown and dispel some of the gloom that had descended in the wake of dropping points to Livingston at the weekend.
“There was a little bit of frustration after the last game because we knew that we had lost points because of us and not because of the opponents,” he added. “We knew that we played badly and underperformed on Saturday but [on Wednesday], after the first 20 minutes and then especially after we scored, we played really, really well and we scored four goals, from four different players and I think that means a lot. You can see that everybody in our team can score.”
The 25-year-old, who signed a two-year deal in the summer, netted Hearts’ second against Motherwell, taking his goal tally to four for the season this far and it is a measure of just how quickly the players have gelled that he was able to ensure he was in the right place at the right time to get on the end of a miscued effort by John Souttar, pictured.
“I told Soapy that when I saw that he was going to hit the ball, I know that he never hits the target! He always hits it left so I hoped that the ball would come there, so it was a little bit of anticipation and knowledge of my team-mates!”
Although Stephen Robinson’s men pegged them back, two late goals by Olly Lee and Steven Naismith took Hearts into the semi-finals and set up the meeting with Celtic.
Haring had hailed the last encounter with Brendan Rodgers’ team as the highlight of his career, but overcoming them again to reach the first final would top that.
“That would be much more special!” he said. “Now we are in the semi-final and of course we want to go to the final. I think it will be a very tough match but we can beat them. We showed that already this season.
“Everything has happened really quickly. If you would have told me that we would have 16 points after six [league] games I think everyone would have signed up for that and now we are in the semi-finals.
“But when I first came here and had talks with the gaffer and Austin (MacPhee), they told me that the standards at Hearts are high and that we want to win titles and I am happy that everything has gone so well, so far. It has been really good. But now we have to think about Saturday because that is going to be another important game and we want to win again.”
With minds back on Premiership duty, Hearts will welcome St Johnstone to Tynecastle for the third home match in a week, and plot a performance more in keeping with the one they delivered to oust Motherwell rather than the one against Livingston days earlier when they were booed off the pitch.
“We are doing well so far. But in three days we have seen two completely different performances from us as a team,” said Haring. “We always have to play with energy. If we do a little bit less, like we maybe did on Saturday, then it gets really hard.
“Every game here so far has been a fight. First you have to win the fight, in midfield and everywhere, before you can play proper football and the game against St Johnstone on Saturday will be the same.”