My Hearts team will learn from first Europa Conference League campaign and be better next year, says Robbie Neilson



ROBBIE NEILSON has challenged his Hearts stars to return straight to Europe and put the lessons they have learned to good use.

The Jambos ended their Group A campaign with a 3-1 loss against Istanbul Basaksehir.


Robbie Neilson gestures to Hearts fans who traveled to TurkeyCredit: AP

Gorgie blunderer neilson was again left to lament the poor goals his men lost, a feature of their campaign.

But he also believes there are plenty of positives to their outings against the Turkish side, Fiorentina and RFS.

He said: “It was the first thing we talked about in the dressing room after the game.

“Can we have group stage football next year and use everything we have learned from this Conference League campaign?

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“It’s been huge for the club and huge for the fans too, they’ve had four big away trips to enjoy it, we’ve had thousands of fans traveling around Europe and having a fantastic time.

“It’s our job now to get back into European football and hopefully improve our results next season.”

“When we look back on this campaign and this debriefing, I think we will look at the positives, to be honest with you.

“Listen, we managed to get football into the group stage for the first time in 16 years.

“We competed, we got six points which is fantastic for us. We went to Fiorentina and Istanbul and scored goals.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of learning in there, you can’t switch off at any time at this level.

“For us it’s about trying to get back here and improve our performances, our results and our points and get back here.”

Hearts once again fell behind with Youssof Ndayishmiye beckoning Basaksehir after just four minutes.

A rare Craig Gordon A mistake led Serdar Gurier to add a second before the break with sub Berkay Ozcan making it three just past the hour mark.

Nathaniel Atkinson pulled one back in added time after good play from young substitute Finlay Pollock.

Neilson said: “It was a tough night for us, to be honest.

“We’re up against a very good team who are rightfully at the top of this group and who I expect to go very far in this tournament.

“I think we defended well, but we lost three bad goals, especially the first one coming straight from a corner after four minutes.

“We managed to solidify and get back into the game but then we lost another bad goal and at this level you can’t do that, we understand that.

“We’ve always said it was a key learning curve for us and the key is that we learn from those mistakes and try to use what we learn to try and get back here once again. “

Neilson gave the start to Euan Henderson, Connor Smith and Lewis Neilson while Pollock came on late.

And Neilson was still convinced that they would handle the big stage.

He said: “They all played well and I was delighted but I thought they would make it, there was no pressure on them tonight.

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“They just came here to try to implement our game plan and do what they could do.

“Having Neilson, Smith, Henderson and Finlay come was great to see and it will be a great education for them. I hope we can move this forward and it will help them grow.

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