Hibernian move step closer to Aston Villa tie with first-leg win over Luzern

By Sports Desk August 10, 2023 305

Hibernian will take a 3-1 lead into the second-leg of their Europa Conference League third qualifying round tie against Swiss side Luzern after a pulsating victory at Easter Road.

With a play-off against Aston Villa awaiting the winners, Hibs struck first moments after the interval with a wonderful strike from Joe Newell.

Ismajl Beka nodded Luzern back level in the 57th minute.

But debutant Dylan Vente headed home with 18 minutes remaining and Jordan Obita added a third in the 90th minute as Hibs took charge of the tie heading into next week’s second leg in Switzerland.

Despite Sunday’s 3-2 home league defeat to St Mirren, Hibs manager Lee Johnson opted to be ambitious with his team selection.

New signing Vente was plunged straight in after resolving work permit issues to partner veteran striker Adam Le Fondre in attack.

With wingers Martin Boyle and Elie Youan providing attacking intent on the flanks of a four-man midfield, the Easter Road side were set up to be bold going forward and it paid off in the end.

But they had to do a lot of defending in the opening 20 minutes as Luzern showed their class on the ball.

Home keeper David Marshall was called into action after just five minutes to prevent Hibs from going behind early.

Martin Frydek clipped a superb pass over the top of right-back Lewis Miller to find winger Teddy Okou but his shot across goal was palmed away by Marshall.

Hibs got a sniff of a chance in the 27th minute from a long Miller throw. Skipper Paul Hanlon won the first contact and the ball eventually fell for Will Fish, whose attempted volley was blocked.

Dylan Levitt scrambled back with a last-ditch touch to prevent Max Meyer from a clear shot on goal as Luzern threatened again.

Soon after it was Hibs’ turn as Newell found Le Fondre’s intelligent run down the right but his attempt to find Vente at the near post was cleared, before Boyle’s 25-yard drive was tipped over by Luzern goalkeeper Pascal Loretz.

It was Hibs who opened the scoring just 18 seconds after the interval.

Boyle’s tenacity blocked a clearance on the right and Le Fondre helped it on for Vente whose smart lay-off was drilled into the top corner by Newell.

The lead lasted just 11 minutes. Luzern earned themselves a second corner in quick succession and Meyer’s in-swinging delivery was headed in by Beka.

Hibs regained the lead when Le Fondre crossed for an unmarked Vente to nod in from six yards.

Both teams continued to go for the jugular and substitute Christian Doidge almost grabbed a third for Hibs but his near-post shot from a low Boyle cross clipped the crossbar on the its way over.

Two minutes later at the other end, Pius Dorn’s drive crashed back off the crossbar with Marshall well beaten.

With the home side starting to look for the full-time whistle, they found a third from nowhere.

Luzern put themselves into trouble with a cross-field pass that Obita seized on to race clear and slot home.

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Last modified on Thursday, 10 August 2023 17:20
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