Date: 24th July 2016 at 3:26pm
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Hearts’ hard work from last season of finishing third in our first season back in the Scottish Premiership brought a chance of European Football this season.

A first qualifying tie was overcame but Robbie Neilson saw his side crash out to Birkirkara on Thursday.

Neilson went into the second leg of the Europa League confident Hearts would advance but Maltese side Birkirkara (some part-timers) recorded a two-one win to advance, which saw the players leave the Tynecastle pitch to a chorus of boos.

The aim this season is to finish in a European qualification again with Neilson telling the BBC as much but he couldn’t hid his disappointment as the missed chance.

‘It’s a huge learning curve. It was a year’s worth of work that got us here and we let it slip. We can’t give away goals like that. Free-kick into the box, switch off, goal. After that we’re chasing ourselves. We’ve got another year now to try to get back [into Europe]. We’ve got to work hard and learn from tonight.’

Hearts literally ‘paid the penalty’ with Prince Buaben seeing his poor penalty saved by Miroslav Kopric with Jamie Walker and Sam Nicholson hitting the crossbar with second half goals from Christian Bubalovic and Edward Herrera putting the visitors in control.

Conor Sammon got one back but it wasn’t enough, Neilson added.

‘We passed the ball well, we got into good opportunities, we hit the bar twice, and we got done. That’s European football. They had two shots at goal and they scored two. We’re on a journey at the moment. We have to keep continuing to learn. You have to finish teams off, and we paid the ultimate penalty.’

Now we learn from this and go again.

‘This is a whole new environment for the players, it’s European football, and it’s about learning and developing. We’re disappointed to go out, but we start building right now for next year.’

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