Europa League qualification 'great for Hearts' - Robbie Neilson

By Martin DowdenBBC Scotland

Delight at European qualification was tinged with regret at dropped points for Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson after their 0-0 draw in Inverness.

Hearts remain third in the Scottish Premiership but missed a chance to move to within six points of Aberdeen after the stalemate with Caley Thistle.

"We wanted to come up here, get three points and put some more pressure on Aberdeen," said Neilson.

"But it guarantees European football this year and is great for the club."

Hearts now lie eight points adrift of Aberdeen with five games remaining after a less than thrilling stalemate.

"It's going to very difficult, but we have to try and keep aiming for it," Neilson told BBC Scotland when asked about their chances of finishing as runners-up. "We've got five huge games coming up now."

'We've made two huge steps as a club'

Hearts have secured a Europa League qualifying place in their first season back in the top flight after winning the Championship title.

"It's been a huge turnaround in less than a year now since the club came out of administration," he said.

"To be able to go down to the Championship, get ourselves back out first time and then get European football the next year is really pleasing for us all.

"But we are always aiming up and taking small steps and I think we've made two huge steps to be honest and it's now just about continuing to progress the club and try and get higher up the league next year.

"The lure of European football definitely does help the recruitment process. Players want to come and play in the Europa League."

Walker booking 'tarnishes his character'

Referee Don Robertson books Hearts winger Jamie Walker
Jamie Walker's yellow card was only his second of the season - the other was also issued by Robertson

Neilson criticised referee Don Robertson for booking winger Jamie Walker for simulation in the box.

"He didn't make any indication that he wanted a penalty," Neilson said. "There was contact, he goes down.

"It tarnishes the boy's character. If there's no contact at all, it's a dive, but when there's contact made the player goes down.

"He actually plays a pass and the referee goes back to books him. I don't understand why he decided to do that."

Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager John Hughes
Hughes believes his Caley Thistle side should have finished in the top six

Caley Thistle moved eight points clear of second-bottom Kilmarnock and manager John Hughes hopes the point gained will help ensure there are no relegation worries.

"If we had done the business against Motherwell, on top of the win on Saturday, that draw tonight probably would have got us in the top six," he said.

"It just shows that fine line that you're walking."

Hughes conceded his side would have to improve if they are to finish top of the sides now in the bottom six of the Premiership.

"It wasn't a classic," he said. "The two teams cancelled each other out. We never penetrated enough, that final pass, combination link-up.

"It's another point hopefully towards seventh spot but we're going to have to do a lot better than that for the remainder of the season."

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