Hearts scorer Paul Hartley says Hearts deserved their place in the Champions League after their 1-0 win over Aberdeen secured his side’s spot in Europe’s premier competition.

“It’s magnificent,” said Hartley, who slotted home the winning penalty. “Playing in the Champions League is what you dream of as a kid.

“We did not play particularly well, but we have deserved it over the season.

“We’ve had our critics all season, but I’m delighted for the owner, Mr Romanov, whose invested lots of money.”

It is the first time in more than 20 years that a Scottish side other than Celtic or Rangers have been in Europe’s premier club competition.

Hearts had billed the match against Aberdeen as their biggest ever.

Chairman Roman Romanov said: “Now there will be less pressure and we can prepare for the Scottish Cup final.

“Vladimir will sit down with the coaching staff to listen to what positions we have weaknesses in and where we need to improve to compete in Europe.

“But I don’t think we are far away from that level. A couple more players to strengthen squad and we might be okay.”

“It is a dream for all of us to win the league,” he added.

“It is like a curse because it hasn’t happened for a long time and hopefully we can do it.

“I think we are at a level with Celtic and Rangers and, if we can compete with them, I don’t see why not.

“If you look at this season, I think we caught them off guard. But, all credit to Celtic, they pulled away.”

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