'A punch in the guts' - Craig Levein rues poor decision-making as Hearts snatch defeat from jaws of victory

Hearts manager Craig Levein felt like he had been "punched in the guts" after seeing a 2-1 lead converted into a 3-2 defeat against Aberdeen.

Sunday, 4th August 2019, 6:59 pm
Craig Levein cuts a dejected figure as he walks off the Pittodrie pitch at full time

The Edinburgh side were 1-0 down to Sam Cosgrove's opener before two quick second-half goals from substitute Steven Naismith and forward Jamie Walker saw put them 2-1 ahead with 14 minutes left.

Teenage full-back Aaron Hickey was then red-carded for a second caution after fouling Niall McGinn. That left the visitors with ten men and Aberdeen capitalised.

• READ MORE - John Souttar injury update: Hearts wait to learn extent of defender's ankle problemSam Cosgrove converted a penalty after Clevid Dikamona fouled McGinn in the area. Ryan Hedges struck the winner on 85 minutes to give the hosts an opening-day Premiership victory.

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“My overriding feeling is I should be talking about all the good things we did. Instead, I'm ruing some poor decision-making at critical times," admitted Levein.

"Aaron is a young kid. He has only played four or five first-team games and was very good. He was booked in the first half and I don't think he needs to make the challenge for the second yellow.

"He is quite a sensible boy and deserved to be book in the first half, then he deserved to get sent off. I can't complain. He decided to dive in at that moment. He will learn.

"We brought on Naismith and Conor Washington in the second half and both of them affected the match. Aberdeen were on the back foot once they came on.

"I find it very difficult to be really positive about the future when I'm sitting here feeling I've been punched in the guts."