Robbie Neilson applauds Hearts squad after sealing place in Scottish Cup final
Robbie Neilson left the “best dressing room” he had been in to talk about Hearts’ 2-1 William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final win over Hibernian.
The Jambos had been in the Scottish Premiership when the season was called to an early halt in March due to the coronavirus crisis but had been relegated and playing in the Championship when they turned up at Hampden Park to take on their Edinburgh rivals.
In a hard-fought semi-final played in driving wind and rain, Craig Wighton headed the Jambos ahead on the hour mark before Hibs striker Christian Doidge levelled seven minutes later.
The two sides could not be separated after 90 minutes and in extra-time Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet hit the crossbar with a penalty before Liam Boyce, who scored the winning spot-kick in Northern Ireland’s recent Euro play-off penalty shoot-out win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, made no mistake again from the spot to set up a final meeting with Celtic or Aberdeen at the national stadium on December 20.
Hearts boss Neilson said: “When I first came in I spoke about unity and being together and using the hurt everyone has had, the players, the staff, the fans over the last year probably, to fuel us for this season and to a man they bought in to it.
“The dressing room after the game was probably the best dressing room I have been in ever.
“The boys were jumping about singing and dancing. There is a great atmosphere at the club and it is about moving forward.
“The club has been hit, hit and hit again for the last nine months, the players, the staff, the fans most importantly.
“This is putting a smile on the fans’ face now and hopefully we can come together again because I think it has been a difficult period but we are all fighting for each other.
“It is about fighting back to get to where we belong and we belong in Scottish Cup finals and we managed to get there.”
Hibernian boss Jack Ross admitted Hibs were “hurt” by the result but urged his players to keep reaching for success.
He said: “Not just in football but in life in general, it is not always fair and there are times when you get knocks or you get things that hurt.
“You have two choices in that respect, you either fold or dust yourselves down and go again.
“We work in an industry where the highs and lows are frequent and for us as a group we have that choice right now.
“I have been there on the sore side and the good side.
“When on the sore side you think, ‘I don’t want that again’ but the truth is you do because you want to get in to the position where you achieve success.
“You can tread water and bob around the middle and not be in the position where it hurts but we want to be in these type of matches and we have a lot of opportunities this season and a lot to focus on.”