Hibee History: Mogga’s men open up floodgates against Latvians

Ivan Sproule, left, smashes home the third goal before setting up the fourth for David Murphy
Ivan Sproule, left, smashes home the third goal before setting up the fourth for David Murphy
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Hibs made light of defensive opponents and torrential summer rain to open up a first-leg lead in the Intertoto Cup.

The home team took 37 minutes to break down the Latvian side when Chris Killen bundled the ball home from close range.

Scott Brown smartly rounded the visitors’ goalkeeper to add a second goal early in the second half and Ivan Sproule slammed home a third goal before crossing for David Murphy to hammer in a strike and Steven Fletcher curled in an impressive late free-kick.

Despite going nap, Hibs manager Tony Mowbray said: “You can probably excuse players for the misses as it was the opening game of the season and the conditions didn’t particularly help. I am slightly disappointed we didn’t take more of the opportunities we created.”

A thunder storm made conditions difficult, with heavy rain falling and the floodlights on to the pierce the unseasonal gloom in Edinburgh.

Hibs are just ten days into their pre-season regime, while Dinaburg have played 11 league games, although they lie sixth in the eight-team Latvian top division.

Dinaburg packed their defence and Hibs were quick to pile forward, with full-backs Steven Whittaker and Murphy prominent in attack.

Paul Dalglish had a great chance to open the scoring after 25 minutes but couldn’t lift his shot cleanly over goalkeeper Vadims Fjodorovs and a defender hacked the ball off the goal-line. Dalglish then headed a great delivery from Brown wide from close range. However, Killen made the breakthrough seven minutes before half-time when his header from a Michael Stewart cross was saved but he was quick enough to force the rebound into the net.

Brown flashed a powerful strike narrowly over the crossbar and Steven Fletcher went close with a header as the home side finished the first-half strongly.

Brown raced clear to finish within 60 seconds of the second-half only to see his effort cancelled by the linesman’s flag. But the busy midfielder was not to be denied and he sprinted through to round the keeper and score four minutes later.

Rob Jones, making his debut for Hibs, went close with a couple of headers, while Fletcher failed to convert a one-on-one with Fjodorovs.

Hibs were beginning to look a little tired when a welcome third goal arrived on 72 minutes, thanks to substitute Sproule.

The Northern Ireland internationalist shot a loose ball under Fjodorovs to give the home side a lift and he soon set up a fourth goal for Murphy.

Sproule’s cross was missed by a clutch of weary defenders and the left-back had time to pick to his spot and blast home a powerful strike.

Fletcher, who had fluffed another one-on-one, added a wonderful late free-kick from 20 yards after replacement Amadou Konte who had missed two gilt-edged chances.

Hibs play the second leg in Latvia next Saturday, with the winners of the tie going on to play either Odense BK or Shelbourne. The Danish side were 3-0 winners at home against the Dubliners on Sunday.

Hibernian: Simon Brown, Whittaker, Murphy, Hogg, Jones, Stewart, Scott Brown, Thomson, Killen, Dalglish, Fletcher. Subs: Malkowski, Shields, Glass, Konde, Shiels, Sproule, Konte.

Dinaburg: Fjodorovs, Popov, Markovs, Shmykob, Ryzheuski, Burlakovs, Zhuromski, Kriklivijs, Rodin, Sokolovs, Logins. Subs: Utinans, Toryan, Cebatarjovs, Pucinskis, Digulovs.

Referee: Sinisa Zrnic (Bosnia-Herzegovina).

Attendance: 11,731.