HEARTS manager Steven Naismith has confessed that Rangers deserved their penalty in the Viaplay Cup semi-final – but expressed bemusement that his team were only awarded a spot kick after Stephen Kingsley had his red card rescinded by a VAR check.

The Tynecastle club lost the last four encounter with their Ibrox rivals 3-0 at Hampden this afternoon after conceding two goals to James Tavernier and also allowing Scott Wright to score in the second half.

Naismith admitted that referee Nick Walsh was correct to punish his goalkeeper Zander Clark for bringing down Danilo shortly after half-time – but he was furious that the match official had to look at his pitchside monitor before giving his team the chance to net from 12 yards.

Walsh initially sent Hearts defender Stephen Kinglsey off for a second bookable offence after ruling the former Scotland internationalist had dived in the opposition area – then he changed his mind after watching a reply and seeing that Ben Davies had kicked him.  

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"Some people will say it was or it wasn't a penalty but I think he (Danilo) anticipates the ball,” he said. “As much as Zander (Clark) is trying to get out of the way, his momentum takes him into his foot. If it was for us, I think I would be asking for it.

"The one thing I would add is I find it frustrating that the first thought for Celtic against us at Tynecastle was 'penalty', the first thought today for Rangers was 'penalty', but for us the first thought was 'red card'.

“I thought it (the Kingsley red) was crazy. To think he would try to dive when the ball is miles away, going out of the park. He was never going to get a penalty for a dive.

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“It's just strange that that seems to happen and first thought is red card when it is a clear kick. There has been a few penalties in recent weeks with that stamp on the foot, Aberdeen in Europe was one. Why was it not just penalty then we can review it? It was red card then we'll review it which was strange for me.”

Naismith confessed that Hearts letting in another two goals so soon after falling behind had been the biggest frustration of the afternoon for him and he admitted that his team will need to improve if they want to achieve their ambitions.  

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"At 1-0, if you regroup and get some control then you don't know how the game goes,” he said. “If you are putting more pressure on, the game gets played in their half, then late on you see we get a penalty. If it's 1-0, then that's a defining point in the game. To concede the three goals is the part we need to learn from.

"There is a slight difference because it's a cup competition because at some point you do need to gamble. If it's 1-0 with half an hour to go, if we get a bit more control in the game and attack, then all it takes is one moment for a chance to score. Our header at 1-0, if that goes in it's one of those moments. So quickly after that you lose the goals and it's up to us to learn from that.”