CRAIG LEVEIN has lamented the defensive errors which ended Hearts’ Scottish Cup dream – but insists his shattered Jambos can hold their heads high.
Celtic completed their historic treble treble with a hard-fought 2-1 triumph at Hampden Park on Saturday, however the capital club had the Hoops rattled when they grabbed the lead through Ryan Edwards early in the second half.
Neil Lennon’s charges responded admirably but benefited from two sloppy lapses. Odsonne Edouard converted a penalty kick after he had been felled by Hearts keeper Zdenek Zlamal, with the Czech stopper paying for his initial hesitation as he sought to collect a loose ball.
The clinical Frenchman completed the turnaround when he scampered onto a Mikael Lustig header that caught Christophe Berra and John Souttar flat-footed.
A visibly devastated Levein said: “I’m terribly disappointed to end up on the losing side. I was very proud of the way the players performed and I feel the players’ and supporters’ pain.
“We defended extremely well the whole match, apart from a couple of occasions. The difficulty is when you play against opposition who have very good players they tend to punish you.
“But it’s very difficult for me to be critical of anybody. I thought they all tried ever so hard to implement the game plan, they did the running they needed to do, they showed good composure when we got into decent areas.
“I find it hard to sit here and talk about it, to be honest.
“I said to them before the game: ‘don’t have any regrets, don’t wake up in the morning and think there was something you could have done better and want the game replayed to change it.’ I don’t think anyone will go to bed tonight thinking they let Hearts down.”