Rudi Skacel and Hearts aim for Europa League spot

Rudi Skacel
Rudi Skacel
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HEARTS’ top goalscorer Rudi Skacel stressed today that securing a top-six place should only begin this season’s achievements because European football remains the ultimate aim at Tynecastle.

Skacel’s 12th and 13th goals of the campaign were standouts in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Aberdeen, with Ryan McGowan the other goalscorer. The result secured top-six football for Hearts but their talismanic Czech declared there is still plenty work to be done to secure a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds.

“We are not finished. We are Hearts and we want to push up in the league,” said Skacel. “We have to wait to go to Europe and this is our target. We have to climb the table. We are Hearts, we are the third biggest club in Scotland so we have to do it.

“Any game at this moment is a play-off for us. We have to win against Dunfermline now and we need three points. We are desperate for three points. We have to focus on the Dunfermline game and we are going step by step in the league.”

Paulo Sergio, the Hearts manager, said Skacel’s influence should not be underestimated. The midfielder’s first goal was lashed home from 25 yards, whilst his second came courtesy of an exquisite first touch, turn and finish.

“Everybody is going to speak about the first one because it’s a long shot, a fantastic shot. But I’m used to that,” Sergio told the Hearts website. “For the second goal, that first touch is a thing that only world-class players do. I’m very proud of him.

“We can speak about Rudi Skacel’s goals but we also have to speak about the work he does for the team. I’m very happy with him because of the other things he does. It’s not just the goals.”

Sergio also praised his players’ diligence against Aberdeen as they recorded a third clean sheet in their last four outings. “It was a hard game,” he continued.

“In terms of a spectacle it wasn’t great but the main objective was the three points and the top-six place in the league.

“The boys showed a great desire to get this victory, get the three points and keep a clean sheet. They worked hard all through the game.

“We can be criticised because the spectacle wasn’t great, I agree with that. But tactically it was a rich game. The desire the players showed to get the three points is very important. I’m very proud of them. All the team worked tactically and together not to give spaces. We made a change tactically in the first half, from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3, and after that change Aberdeen didn’t have the ball to play. When they had some counter-attacks everybody was working together to recover the ball. I’m very happy with that.”