Hibs manager Neil Lennon admits watching his team avoid joining Scottish football’s endless list of glorious failures in Europe will give the players a huge lift, writes Darren Johnstone.
The Leith club rode their luck to see off Greek side Asteras Tripolis 4-3 on aggregate following Thursday’s nerve-shredding 1-1 draw in the Europa League second qualifying round away leg.
Keeper Adam Bogdan made a notable contribution after pulling off a string of fine saves in the face of incessant pressure from ten-man Tripolis.
And although Lennon knows the players can play better, he admits surviving a second-half onslaught gave him much satisfaction. He said: “It can only give the players that extra belief and confidence.
“At two-nil down in the first leg, at half-time I’m thinking another typical Scottish performance. It’s easy chances and we’ve given away sloppy goals but you’re thinking that there is a bit of character in this team and a bit of ability as well.
“We didn’t show enough of that in the second half in Greece but we have to respect the opposition as well.
“On reflection I’m feeling very good. It was nice to be on that flight home knowing you’re in the next round. It’s a good feeling and it will give the players a lift.
“You didn’t want to be a glorious failure or get a patronising pat on the back, ‘good old Hibs’ – but we overcame that on Thursday.”
Molde, who make the trip to Edinburgh on Thursday, now stand in Hibs’ way of a play-off round clash but Lennon admits his team go into the tie with no fears. He added: “Will they be as good as Asteras? I hope not but they’re midway through their season. We know Molde beat Celtic a couple of years ago and they’re a regular player in this tournament.”
Lennon, pictured, added: “Ole Solskjaer has vast experience as a player and he’s back for his second spell at Molde, and it seems to suit him very well.
“They’ll be a slick outfit, I’ve not seen much of them but we had them watched on Thursday so we’ll get into the footage early next week.
“It will be difficult, although it’s not insurmountable for us and hopefully we’ll have more bodies in by Thursday just to augment what we have.
“I think Asteras had planned really for being in a European campaign, they put a bit of money in there and they were slick.”