Craig Levein rues ‘soft’ penalty and rare Zdenek Zlamal mistake as Hearts’ Betfred Cup bid dies

Craig Levein was frustrated by the goals Hearts lost.
Craig Levein was frustrated by the goals Hearts lost.
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Craig Levein lamented the way Hearts handed Celtic the initiative at a time when he felt Brendan Rodgers side were “running out of ideas” in today’s Betfred Cup semi-final at Murrayfield.

The Tynecastle side matched their opponents for 52 minutes until Olly Bozanic was deemed to have tripped Ryan Christie in the box, allowing Scott Sinclair to give Celtic the lead with a penalty. An uncharacteristic lapse from goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal then gifted James Forrest a second before Christie sealed a 3-0 win for the Parkhead side with a strike from distance.

“I’m frustrated and disappointed,” said Hearts manager Levein. “The lads followed the gameplan to perfection until the penalty. Then Bobby made his first mistake this season and we found ourselves 2-0 down without having done an awful lot wrong. Those two things made it nearly impossible for us to get back in the match.

“I felt good about how the game was going. Celtic were getting frustrated. They looked like they were getting a bit leggy and were starting to run out of ideas and playing big diagonals to try and get in behind us. We dealt with all of that quite comfortably so to lose a silly goal like the penalty makes it quite galling. Once they got the first and second goals, their tails were up and our boys were feeling a bit sorry for themselves.”