STEPHEN Kingsley was so nervous during Hearts’ game against Celtic at Parkhead that he listened to the second half on the radio in the dressing room rather than watch it from the dugout.

But the Tynecastle defender, who put the visitors 2-0 in front in the first half when he netted a long-range free-kick, revealed that he and his team mates had been confident they could win the cinch Premiership match before kick-off.

The Scotland internationalist, who went off at half-time with a minor groin strain, and his fellow players all felt their opponents would struggle to perform to the same high level as they had in their mentally and physically draining Champions League triumph over Feyenoord three days earlier.

Sure enough, Brendan Rodgers’ side played poorly and Steven Naismith’s team recorded a deserved triumph, their first in the East End of Glasgow in the league in 16 years, which ensured they jumped from sixth to third place in the table.

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"I was inside in the second half,” said Kingsley. “I'm the most nervous person ever watching games so I was getting a bit of physio treatment first and then I was just listening in.

"I was nervous. But from hearing it, I felt we were strong. You're never comfortable at Celtic Park, but I felt we were resolute in our shape. I was quietly confident we had a very good chance of seeing it out. I went out for the celebrations with about 30 seconds to go!"

He added: "It (Celtic being vulnerable) was something we spoke about before the game. Not just Celtic, any team that has such a high in midweek it's just a natural thing that happens.

The Herald: "Subconsciously, it is always tough to come back off such a big high and play again at the weekend. We knew we wanted to make this chance count and went into the game really confident.

"I think they'll say it themselves, they were off it. They had a massive game and win on Wednesday night. To be honest, anyone that plays the game will know that when you go from a massive high like that, the next game there's always a bit of sluggishness. It's hard to get straight back up for games again.

"It was a good time to play them for us. But we defended very well. They were having shots, but weren't splitting us open regularly. When the first went in it was about the mental side of things for us. I thought we were brave on the ball, especially the first half.

"We knew going there it was an opportunity. You need to have a bit of luck on your side. We went to Ibrox and were leading 1-0 heading into the 90th minute. We've competed well in these big games and felt we were close to getting a positive result. All credit to the boys."

The 29-year-old was delighted to get on the scoresheet for the first time since he netted in the Scottish Cup semi-final win over Hibernian at Hampden way back in the April of 2022.

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"To be honest, I always feel like I've got a chance with free-kicks,” he said. “I'm comfortable with the technique I've got. I've had a couple of chances with them earlier this season which went close, but sometimes you need that bit of luck to see them go in.

"I've practised it so much and I've got the technique so I'm always confident and positive. This is the first one in a long time and I'm happy to get the monkey off the back.

"It was relief. Not so much the free-kick itself. I couldn't have walked up and placed it any better, especially as a lefty. But I think if you watch the celebration back, you can see the relief. It has been a while since my last goal and I want to help out with goals.

"As a defender I know my main job, but I want to help out going forward and I feel like I haven't done that enough. I was happy to help the team out."

Kingsley predicted that Hearts, who had lost back-to-back Premiership games against Rangers at home and Aberdeen away, will now be able to build on their display in the weeks ahead and consolidate their position in the table.

"It was massive for us to bounce back and get some confidence going again,” he said. “Now we're heading into a run of games, St Mirren and then Hibs. Nothing needs said about that one. Two massive games coming up and they will be challenging us for that third spot come the end of the season. This has to give us confidence, getting back on track."