HIBS’ thrashing of Sporting – the heaviest defeat ever suffered by the Lisbon club in European tournaments at the time – was a result that resounded throughout Europe.
Hibs manager Eddie Turnbull, the man whose half-time advice transformed his side’s performance, was entitled to a satisfied smile. It was 1-1 at the break but what a difference after the turnaround.
“It was magic in that half,” said Turnbull. “The fans did a magnificent job for us, and the players did likewise. Sporting are a first-class side, and that’s why I am so pleased with our performance.”
Jimmy O’Rourke, contributing another midweek hat-trick, and Alan Gordon, shared five goals, but it was the wing-play of Alex Edwards and Arthur Duncan that led to the onslaught. Jimmy had been around in European conflict for ten years but he admitted: “Scoring three goals was probably the biggest thrill I’ve had.”
Hibs struck their devastating form down the slope after a first half in which they struggled to find composure and cohesion.
The midfield trio of O’Rourke and Alex Cropley couldn’t get to grips with the game and the stylish Fraguito ruled that department. Indeed, he wasn’t far away with a rising shot as Hibs showed nerves in the heart of their defence and carelessly kept putting Sporting in possession.
It seemed Hibs had turned the corner once they scored in 28 minutes. Alex Edwards whipped the ball beyond the far post and Alan Gordon’s head did the rest. The 26,000 fans roared with delight because Hibs were in front over the two games, thanks to Arthur Duncan’s away goal in the 2-1 defeat, the away goal counting double.
However, the slick Sporting attack soon got one back. The flying Marinho picked up a deflection off the East German referee, eluded Jim Black, and centred a low ball that Yazalde flashed home.
Now Hibs needed two goals to qualify. Turnbull reckoned: “The break came at an ideal time for us once we were able to sort things out after the loss of the goal.”
Hibs came out to use the full width of the pitch. Edwards and Duncan attacked the defence with their direct running, and the Portuguese were a weary lot at the end of it all. The pressure was too great and Sporting crumpled under the non-stop barrage. A fantastic Duncan run was worth a goal, and there was a further hint of a breakthrough when Damas saved brilliantly from a Pat Stanton header.
And, with 55 minutes gone, Gordon head-flicked a ball to O’Rourke who calmly lobbed it past the advancing keeper.
The crowd sniffed success and set up a tremendous din as John Brownlie smashed an unsavable shot against the post. Then Damas had another superb save from a Duncan header.
Sporting couldn’t hold out and Gordon headed number three from an Eric Schaedler centre. It was a question of how many as the Portuguese wilted, and O’Rourke finished off a Brownlie pass just four minutes later.
Sporting introduced Dinis and Tome for Chico and Wagner, but it was only a gesture. Laranjeiro fouled Duncan in the box and O’Rourke slotted the penalty with ten minutes left.
To complete the visitors’ misery, Manaca diverted an ill-directed Duncan shot into his own net in the closing minutes. Gordon set up the chance expertly and Arthur ought to have directed his shot on target.
So Hibs won 7-3 on aggregate. Lisbon boss Ronnie Allen thought goalkeeper Damas had gifted Hibs four goals with bad clearances, but that would be over amplifying the situation and detracting from Hibs’ display. Sporting hadn’t the heart or the temperament to hit back when Hibs roared to victory, and John Brownlie was proved correct when, at the end of the first leg, he said: “They won’t know what hits them when we get them down the hill at Easter Road.” How true!
Hibs lost in the quarter-finals to Hadjuk Split. Having won 4-2 at Easter Road they suffered an agonising 3-0 defeat in Yugoslavia.
Hibs: Herriot, Brownlie, Schaedler, Stanton, Black, Blackley, Edwards, O’Rourke, Gordon, Cropley, Duncan.
Sporting Lisbon: Damas, Gomez, Pereira, Chico, Manaca, Laranjeiro, Marinho, Fraguito, Yazalde, Nelson, Wagner.