Hearts boss: Ref was right to send off Igor Rossi

Igor Rossi protests his innocence to Hearts boss Robbie Neilson after being sent off for a two-footed tackle on Darren Lyon.   Picture: Ian Rutherford
Igor Rossi protests his innocence to Hearts boss Robbie Neilson after being sent off for a two-footed tackle on Darren Lyon. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Robbie Neilson had no complaints about Igor Rossi’s red card in yesterday’s goalless draw with Hamilton.

Hearts’ head coach admitted referee Bobby Madden was right to send off the Brazilian defender for a rash tackle on Accies midfielder Darren Lyon and intends to hold a frank discussion with the player when the squad return to training tomorrow.

Although the away support at New Douglas Park voiced their displeasure towards the officials in response to the decision, Neilson dismissed any notion of injustice in the Hearts camp afterwards.

“Not at all, it was the right decision, he went in with his two feet,” said the head coach. “If you go in with your two feet it’s a red card, end of story. He’s going to miss next week [Inverness Caledonian Thistle away] and he only has himself to blame. We’ll deal with it when we’re in on Tuesday. It was a silly challenge. Hopefully he won’t do it again.”

Rossi’s red card – Hearts’ fifth dismissal of the season – means he and fellow defender Blazej Augustyn, who was already due to serve a suspension, will miss Saturday’s trip to Inverness. Neilson explained that he didn’t have words with the Brazilian at half-time as he had to focus on outlining the game-plan for the second half. “There’s no point in speaking to him at half-time,” he said. “I’ll speak to him on Tuesday. It’s about dealing with the players in the second half. There’s no point in wasting your time speaking to someone at half-time.”

Yesterday’s match took on extra significance as it was Hearts’ first visit to New Douglas Park since their controversial 3-2 defeat there in August, when Callum Paterson was wrongly sent off for a foul on Darian MacKinnon. The Accies midfielder’s role in that incident five months ago irked the Hearts camp, and he was again in the thick of it after Rossi’s challenge on Lyon.

MacKinnon, who reacted angrily, was booked and could then be seen arguing with Neilson as the players went up the tunnel at half-time. The feisty midfielder didn’t return for the second half as Accies manager Martin Canning took him off to protect him from a second yellow card.

Neilson was in no mood to take a swipe at MacKinnon afterwards. “There was a set-to [on the pitch at the sending off] but that’s the way you have to play the game,” said the Hearts boss. “You’re on the astro and it’s very hard to pass the ball because it doesn’t hold up. It’s about competing and Darian is a competitor. That’s what he’s in the team for, he wants to get close to people and be aggressive and we have to deal with it. It was the same last time, we have to deal with that physicality. It’s up to the referee to deal with it as well and it told a story he was taken off at half-time because if he’d made another one in the second half he would have been off.”

Meanwhile, Jamie Walker and Soufian El Hassnaoui could be given a chance to step up their fitness levels by featuring for Hearts’ development team against Motherwell at Ochilview tonight (kick-off 7.30pm). Both attackers are battling their way back following lengthy injury lay-offs.