IN the shadow of Mount Pilatus on the shores of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland tonight, Hibernian scaled to giddy heights in Europe.

A money-spinning double header against Premier League club Aston Villa was on the line in the second leg of their UEFA Conference League third qualifying round double header with Luzern.

Lee Johnson’s side held a two goal advantage going into the match having won their first encounter with Mario Frick’s team 3-1 at Easter Road last week.

But the Edinburgh club had slumped to a 2-1 loss to Andorran minnows Inter Club d’Escaldes on their previous trip to the continent last month – a humiliating result which sparked a furious backlash from their travelling supporters.

Could they avoid squandering their lead, being brought crashing back down to earth and incurring the wrath of the away fans once again with another embarrassing loss in the Swissporarena?

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They certainly could. An early Elie Youan goal and a Martin Boyle strike in the latter stages earned them a 2-2 draw and an improbable 5-3 triumph overall. Here are five talking points from another memorable evening for Hibs in Europe. 


The wisdom of Hibs splashing out £500,000 on French forward Youan in the summer was questioned by many in the Scottish game.

He had certainly enjoyed many fine moments during his season-long loan in Leith last term and had netted on no fewer than nine occasions in the Premiership.

Yet, the 24-year-old had been inconsistent and frustrating. And the transfer fee which it took to secure his services from Swiss club St Gallen was a not inconsiderable sum for his employers.   

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Youan, though, was oustanding tonight. He did superbly to break the deadlock. He picked up the ball inside his own half in the 10th minute, made a powerful run upfield and lobbed, with the help of the slightest of deflections, keeper Pascal Loretz.

He also did brilliantly to set up Boyle for Hibs’ second after Luzern had edged 2-1 in front by controlling a high ball upfield, cutting inside into the Luzern penalty box and squaring to his team mate.

Reaching the play-offs landed the victors a £200,000 windfall. But how much will two matches against Villa be worth? The home tie is sure to be a sell-out.

Their mercurial talent went a long way to justifying his acquisition tonight.


Hibs manager Johnson made three changes to the starting line-up that took to the field in the league meeting with Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday – a game his men lost 2-1 in to drop to the bottom of the top flight table.

He replaced Jimmy Jeggo in midfield with Josh Campbel and preferred Youan and Boyle in attack to Christian Doidge and Jordan Obita.

But he did not alter the tactics which had served him well against Luzern last Thursday night; he instructed his charges to go on the offensive from kick-off.

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The home side have, like their rivals, laboured domestically of late and went into this outing on the back of a 1-1 draw with Young Boys at home at the weekend. Still, it was a dangerous strategy.

Johnson explained his thinking behind his selection when he spoke to BBC Scotland before the 90 minutes got underway.

"The pitch is nice and wide,” he said. “That is usually good for us if we have the energy, which I believe we will with Martin and Elie coming back in. They are players who can use the width of the pitch.

"I did throw caution to wind last week and it did pay off. But it wasn't without risk. There were a few opportunities where we could have been a goal or two behind, but we want to score a goal tonight. We want to win. We're not coming here to draw.”

Luzern scored through Jakub Kadak in the first-half and Kemal Ademi in the second and carved out numerous scoring opportunities which they did not convert. But so did Hibs. Johnson was correct to take such an adventurous approach and was rewarded for being so courageous.


Boyle had an excellent chance to restore Hibs lead on the night and put them three ahead on aggregate when he was sent clean through on goal during the first-half.

He only had Loretz to beat – and Nicky Beloko clearly realised it.

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The Swiss midfielder clearly pulled the shoulder of the Australian internationalist as he advanced and bundled his opponent to the ground before he was able to get an attempt away.

However, Greek referee Aristotelis Diamantopoulos, who had a perfect view of the incident, declined to award a free-kick or show a yellow card never mind a red.

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With no VAR in use, there was nothing the Hibs players could do but play on. Boyle was still complaining to the match official as he headed up the tunnel at half-time. Who says new technology is bad for the game?


Former Scotland internationalist David Marshall had a busy evening in the Swissporarena as Luzern went all out to get back into the game.

He was called on to make several saves as Max Meyer and his team mates attempted to overhaul the deficit and go through. But Marshall has dealt with such onslaughts on foreign fields on numerous occasions in his long career. He was calmness personified.

The 38-year-old was unlucky to concede after producing a fine one-handed save from Meyer. But he did well to tip a dipping volley by Pius Dorn over his crossbar. The Hibs outfield players must have been relieved to have the vastly-experienced veteran behind them.


Nothing is ever simple with Hibs. Just when it looked as if they were comfortable they switched off at a corner and allowed Ademi to net a header at a corner. Where was skipper Paun Hanlon as the substitute jumped for the ball? The striker was given far too much time and space.

Johnson, whose men have let in eight goals in their past four matches, has work to do before the first Villa game next week.