Neil Lennon praised his Hibs side for recovering from the double blow of conceding a goal after 17 seconds and seeing their new manager sent to the stand during the 1-0 first leg loss to Brondby.
The result means Hibs have it all to do on Thursday in Copenhagen to reach the Europa League third qualifying round. But there were fears the defeat might have been a lot worse after an error by goalkeeper Otso Vitanen gifted the Danes the lead in the opening minute.
But Hibs responded well to Kamil Wilczek’s opener and had what Lennon complained was a perfectly good goal from Jason Cummings chopped off for offside by the Spanish officials. Lennon let nearside assistant referee Miguel Martinez know about his unhappiness with the decision and was sent to the stand by referee Juan Martinez Munueara.
It was the first time Lennon had been sent off in Europe and he will speak to Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster before deciding whether to appeal. As it stands, he will be forced to watch the second leg from the stand too.
“We have had a brilliant goal disallowed – he [Cummings] is on onside and the reason I was angry is that he [the assistant referee] got it wrong and he was not up with play,” said Lennon. “So I remonstrated with the linesman and the next thing I am sent to the stand for no reason whatsoever.
“I didn’t think the referee had a good game, which is what I expected looking at his record before the game. His relationship with the two linesmen was very poor.”
But Lennon applauded his players, who he said “gave me everything out there tonight”.
The manager conceded his side were “spooked” by the loss of such an early goal. “It was a really poor goal from our point of view. But the reaction was excellent.” Virtanen, he added, was a victim of either nerves or being caught cold on his full debut. “But I am not here to hang the kid out to dry.”