Robbie Neilson hails match-winner Juanma as Hearts close the gap on Aberdeen



Robbie Neilson hopes confidence and the right service will spur Juanma on to a blistering end to the season after the Spaniard turned in an irrepressible performance against Aberdeen.

The 25-year-old has struggled to find the net in 2016, scoring just one goal and drifting in and out of the team.

However, against the Dons he looked every inch the powerhouse striker who announced his arrival in Scotland at the start of the season with nine goals in his first 19 games.

juanmaThe former Levante front-man bullied Ash Taylor and Mark Reynolds, brought the likes of Jamie Walker and Sam Nicholson into the game and capped an all-action display with both goals in the 2-1 win.

It takes Juanma’s tally for the season to 12 and Neilson lauded: “Juanma is a very good player and recently we haven’t been using him as well as we could.

“But we started supplying him with the ball and he showed what he can do. I hope that gives him confidence to kick on.

“He went through a spell when he was out the team and found it difficult but goals help striker.”

The result was made all the more remarkable given Hearts had just one day of training under their belts going into the game after a bout of gastroenteritis had laid low 17 first-team players.

Neilson added: “A few of them were running on empty at the end! I picked a team that I thought tactically could win the game but one that I felt would be fit enough after illness.

“We left out a few players who otherwise would have played. There were only four guys tonight that really suffered and we were a wee bit worried about them in the end.

“There are a few guys out there in the last 10 minutes I was looking at and choosing which one I thought would break down first but we managed to get through it and get the result.”