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Heckingbottom hails Hibs for showing character in cup win 

The head coach was pleased with the "battling performance" to beat Kilmarnock.

Heckingbottom felt his players came through a tough test.
Heckingbottom felt his players came through a tough test. SNS Group

Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom said his players stood up and showed what they were made of as they beat Kilmarnock on penalties to reach the League Cup semi-final.

After losing to Hearts in the derby last weekend and suffering a disappointing run of results, Heckingbottom said that players and fans had been rewarded for coming through a tough night at Rugby Park, where Ryan Porteous was sent off in extra time at 0-0 before Hibs won a dramatic shoot-out..

He said: "We showed a lot of character and to go all the way to the end with ten men and then penalties.

"You get through it in a way that means a lot because if it goes the other way when you've put all that in then you're going to feel totally sick.

"Right to the end and even going behind in the shoot-out, I keep saying it and it's not a soundbite, that's what football is like, those moments.

"People are going to question you all the time and the only way to deal with it is to stand up. We have to stand and fight and show that in every game."

'All I've stressed about is getting through, getting to the final, winning, winning, winning.'
Paul Heckingbottom

The coach admitted to being under pressure recently but said it was just part of the game but he was delighted to see his team prevail on a pitch where they lost 2-0 just two weeks ago.

"It's a big game with a big prize at the end of it. We've got a semi-final," he said.

"All I've stressed about is getting through, getting to the final, winning, winning, winning.

"It is no good being good for 70 minutes and losing or being good for 90 and losing - win."

Hibs now face Celtic and Aberdeen in the Premiership and Heckingbottom acknowledged the challenge ahead but said he was eagerly anticipating the Hampden semi-final.

"We've got two games against teams that finished above us last season so we know what we're fighting against," he said. "It's easy for me to sit here and say 'I'm confident that we'll turn it around' but we have to do it.

"I'm just pleased tonight that the players have got their reward and the fans have got their reward and have seen a battling performance.

"We've got league games we want to take care of but when the cup does come around it's a totally different experience.

"It's a cup semi-final, it's a one-off, you give everything, you leave every single bit of you on the pitch to try and get through."

Kilmarnock boss Angelo Alessio was disappointed with his side's cup exit but felt that one of Hibs' penalties - Tom James' kick to make it 4-3 - should not have stood.

He said: "I think that the player took two touches.

"But the referee said it was OK so we accept it but I think it was no good.

"We were too far away to see but my players said the player took two touches when he hit the ball."

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