Hibs' mission impossible ends in comfortable victory for Aston Villa as travelling fans do themselves proud

Jhon Duran opens the scoring for Aston Villa against Hibs.Jhon Duran opens the scoring for Aston Villa against Hibs.
Jhon Duran opens the scoring for Aston Villa against Hibs.
Hibs’ mission impossible in the Midlands proved exactly that as Aston Villa booked their place in the Europa Conference League group stage with a 3-0 win on the night – 8-0 on aggregate.

Villa, who won the first leg of their qualifying play-off 5-0 last week in Edinburgh, underlined their superiority over managerless Hibs with goals from Jhon Duran and Leon Bailey before the interval. Substitute Matty Cash struck his third goal in two games just after the hour-mark as Villa, hosting a European tie for the first time in 13 years, made it four straight wins in all competitions. Unai Emery’s side will learn who they face in the Europa Conference League group stage on Friday when the draw is made in Monaco.

Hibs, who sacked manager Lee Johnson on Sunday after a home defeat to Livingston left them bottom of the cinch Premiership without a point, were backed throughout by their noisy band of 2,200 travelling supporters. But the visitors were reminded of the gulf in class between the two sides in the 12th minute when Duran opened the scoring. The Colombia forward burst between Hibs’ centre-backs Rocky Bushiri and Paul Hanlon on to Pau Torres’ excellent pass and swept the ball home.

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Hibs have put former defender David Gray in temporary charge for a third time and they responded through Jordan Obita’s effort, which forced Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen into a flying save. But Villa made it 7-0 on aggregate when teenage debutant Omari Kellyman laid on their second goal in the 34th minute. The 17-year-old skipped past a tackle and slid in Bailey, who cut back on to his left foot on the right edge of the area to fire beyond Hibs goalkeeper David Marshall.

Emery, who made six changes from the side which won 3-1 at Burnley last weekend, sent on Cash and captain John McGinn – against his former club – for the start of the second half. Cash, who fired a double at Turf Moor on Sunday, made it 3-0 on the night just after the hour-mark, burying a rebound after Marshall had failed to hold on to Bailey’s fierce free-kick. McGinn was denied a goal after more neat interplay from Villa by a last-ditch block before the home side took their foot off the gas.

Hibs, given a rousing send off by their impressive fans at the final whistle, will now focus on Sunday’s league game at Aberdeen, where they will bid to kick-start their domestic season.