Robbie Neilson says beating Celtic must be just the start for Hearts as he praises Beni Baningime and 'world-class' Craig Gordon
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson told his players that beating Celtic should be just the start as they returned to the Scottish Premiership in style.
John Souttar’s late header earned a 2-1 opening-day win at Tynecastle Park after Anthony Ralston had levelled Gary Mackay-Steven’s opening goal.
The win puts newly-promoted Hearts joint top of the table with Rangers and leaves new Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou winless after three competitive outings.
Neilson implored his players to build a winning mentality, starting at St Mirren next weekend. “We’re delighted. We had just over 5,00 fans here and it felt like 20,000,” he said.
“It’s been a long time since people have been at a live game so it’s good to send them home happy. It’s also a brilliant Saturday night for the people watching on TV.
“It’s a brilliant start for us but it’s just a start. We need to do it next week and the week after. We start again on Monday.”
Neilson reserved special praise for Souttar, new signing Beni Baningime and goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who made two outstanding late saves to preserve Hearts' victory.
“I was delighted for everybody but especially John. He’s had a hard couple of years with his injuries,” added the manager. “Our job is to keep him as fit as we can. When he’s fully fit, he is a top player both attacking and defensively.
“I thought Beni was excellent. He lasted longer than I thought he would. He hasn’t played a lot of football but he did exactly what we wanted him to do – broke up play, made tackles, pressing. As he gets fitter we’ll get even more from him. I thought he was excellent in possession as well.
With Craig, that’s what he does, makes world-class saves. You need that playing against the Old Firm. They will get chances and they have top quality in the forward areas.
Celtic have got [Odsonne] Edouard, [Ryan] Christie, a new Japanese internationalist. It’s real quality coming on at key stages. We needed our goalkeeper and he pulled off some brilliant saves again.
Celtic will look to improve but when they click they go through you like a hot knife through butter. They’ve had some difficult results but with some recruitment they will still be right up there.”