Hibs rewarded for bold risk and reward tactics as unlikely hero helps put Luzern to sword in European first leg

Dylan Vente celebrates after scoring on his Hibs debut in the 3-1 win over Luzern.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)Dylan Vente celebrates after scoring on his Hibs debut in the 3-1 win over Luzern.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Dylan Vente celebrates after scoring on his Hibs debut in the 3-1 win over Luzern. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Hibs started this tie with goalscorers galore in the team but few would have listed Joe Newell as one of them. Not until now.

But, in helping Hibs negotiate their early Europa Conference League qualifiers, the 30 year-old midfielder is reinventing himself.

In his first three seasons in Leith he mustered one goal a term. Last year he upped his season’s haul to three but in his first four games this term, he has already weighed in with two European efforts, shifting the momentum against Inter Club d’Escaldes in the previous round and then breaking the deadlock in this first leg against FC Luzern.

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Having made a telling block in the first half, where he was charged with anchoring the midfield as those around him swarmed forward, at the start of the second he sent a left-foot shot into the net.

The chance had been carved out by the men seen as the greater attacking threat, as Martin Boyle got the break of the ball high on the right flank, played it inside to Adam Le Fondre, who moved it onto newcomer Dylan Vente, who laid it back to Newell.

Having weighed up the Swiss side, and well aware of his own side’s strengths and weaknesses, Hibs manager Lee Johnson had warned that the match could be end to end and goals could be aplenty. That made the 0-0 at half-time slightly surprising, especially as the rest of his prediction had proved pretty accurate and each side enjoyed periods on top.

Both Allan Delferriere and Josh Campbell were left out of the starting line-up against FC Luzern and they weren’t the only ones as Christian Doidge was on the bench as the Hibs boss shook things up and went for two up front, as newcomer Vente and Le Fondre were tasked with using their complementary pace and guile to spearhead an attacking side, which also included a return for Aussie full back Lewis Miller.

Manager Lee Johnson had spoken about being bold against a team who have never won back to back ties in European competition. And, at home, he was hoping that a high-pressing, forward-thinking line up would pose more questions of the Swiss side than they could conjure up themselves.

It was in the balance at points but when the final whistle sounded it was the capital side who held the advantage and they will travel to Switzerland next week with reason to believe they can see the job through and set up a meeting with Aston Villa, with a spot in the group stage at stake.

It wasn’t an easy win but it was one that was merited, even if the defensive vulnerabilities associated with playing in such a front-footed style left them exposed at times.

The visitors looked like they may be able to make more of those openings at the beginning of the match as the likes the mobility of the Luzern forwards as they swept forward and proved a nuisance but Hibs fought hard to keep them out.

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After Newell’s goal, the away team bit back, with a quick equaliser. Maximilian Mayer’s corner was met by Ismajl Beka and he bulleted his header beyond David Marshall. But Le Fondre and Vente had looked well suited and they linked up to help Hibs regain the lead in the 72nd minute, with the newest signing providing the finish on his debut before Jordan Obita, who had come on for Elie Youan and was pushing upfield, capitalised on a slack pass and bore down on goal and slotted a low pass into the net to make it 3-1.



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