Hearts boss Robbie Neilson says bad blood caused by Aberdeen's desperation to win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 09/01/16 10:33pm
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson blamed a bad-tempered finale to the 1-0 Scottish Cup fourth round victory over Aberdeen on their opponents’ desperation to hold on to their only realistic hope of securing silverware.
Callum Paterson headed home the only goal after three minutes but an increasingly angry affair spilled over in the closing stages at Tynecastle.
Aberdeen refused to concede possession from a stoppage-time throw-in after Jambos goalkeeper Neil Alexander kicked the ball out with home skipper Alim Ozturk indicating he had cramp.
Hearts substitute Juanma Delgado remonstrated with Dons boss Derek McInnes after the final whistle of a game that saw seven bookings, with both managers clashing on the touchline early in the second half.
When asked about the incident involving McInnes and Juanma, who was recently sent off for headbutting St Johnstone's David Wotherspoon, Neilson said: "It doesn't bother me. Juanma likes to get involved. Nothing came of it, it was just people saying things.
"It was two big teams in a very high-stakes game. Realistically, for both teams, the Scottish Cup is the only chance of winning something this year. Can Aberdeen catch Celtic? It's going to be difficult.
"They are out of the League Cup and we are out of the League Cup so this was a massive game for both clubs."
On the controversy over the throw-in, Neilson added: "It's up to Aberdeen. It's not against the rules, if they want to do that they can do it. It didn't come to anything.
"It shows how desperate they are to win. We just need to deal with the cross."
McInnes was unhappy with the circumstances leading up to his side refusing to give the ball back to Hearts and defended the decision to instead launch an attack, which soon led to goalscorer Paterson being booked for a foul on Jonny Hayes.
"It was my instruction for Jonny Hayes to keep possession of the ball," said McInnes.
"There's nothing wrong with Ozturk when the cross comes in. All of a sudden he went from the front post to the edge of the box and then goes down.
"It's something consistent with what Hearts do at times when they are trying to see a game out, and something we made the players aware of. Alexander couldn't wait to get the ball out the park.
"If their player chooses to go down with cramp or whatever and doesn't require a physio, we have every right to keep possession of the ball.
"Juanma of all people giving me the moral high ground about how we shouldn't keep the ball... All I said to him was we had every right to keep the ball. We were guilty of nothing in that instance."
McInnes did concede Hearts were worthy of the victory, however, which came when Paterson headed in from six yards after Ozturk nodded on Sam Nicholson's corner.
"Hearts were far more aggressive out the blocks," added McInnes, who has lost Willo Flood for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury.
"We're well aware of their set-play threat and the size of them and when you lose two headers in your own box you normally cause yourselves trouble. We were poor in the first half, no question.
"Half-time came at a good time for us. We were fortunate to be only 1-0 down. With Willo Flood going off injured, we were trying to manufacture a midfield to still carry that threat.
"We were far better in the second half and far more competitive. We are open to criticism for the first-half performance. Hearts outfought us rather than outplayed us, and they deserved to go through."