Florian Kamberi wrote his own little bit of history as he became the first Hibs player to score a hat-trick in Europe for 45 years, helping the Easter Road side effectively book their place in the second qualifying round of the Europa League.
The Edinburgh club will travel to the Faroe Islands next week with a five-goal cushion which will surely be too much for NSI Runavik to overcome although the they have proved tricky opponents on their own plastic pitch in the past.
Kamberi got Neil Lennon’s side off to the perfect start, slotting home a second-minute penalty after he’d been bundled off the ball by Einar Trondargjogv whose night went from bad to worse as he was shown a straight red card for a lunge on Martin Boyle to leave his team-mates to play almost an hour short-handed.
By the time of his dismissal, Hibs were already three up, Kamberi having added his second of the game with Oli Shaw also finding the net.
Newcomer Stevie Mallan made it four as his weak shot trundled under the body of goalkeeper Tordur Thomsen before Kamberi claimed his place in Hibs’ history books by slotting home his third only three minutes into the second half. In doing so, he became the first Hibs player to achieve that particular feat since Alan Gordon put three past Hadjuk Split in the European Cup-Winners Cup in 1973.
Lennon, watching from the stand as he continues to serve a UEFA ban, would have been delighted with what he had seen, the gloss taken off the result only slightly as Petur Knudsen’s deflected free-kick gave Runavik a rare moment to savour before Mallan hit a sixth for the Edinburgh side.
Runavik coach Samal Erik Hentze had admitted it would take something of “a miracle” if his side, having failed to progress beyond their first tie in any of their previous 11 European outings, were to create a shock this time round.
And his assessment of the task in hand was immediately underlined as Hibs got off to the dream start, Trondargjogv bundling Kamberi off the ball as he attempted to get on the end of Vykintas Slivka’s pass, enough, judged Lithuanian referee Manfredas Lukjancukas to merit a penalty.
The Swiss striker himself stepped up and breathed a mighty sigh of relief as his effort from the spot squirmed under the body of goalkeeper Thomsen.
However, rather than being rattled, the part-timers from the Faroes, enjoying the benefit of being halfway through their season and looking big, strong,and athletic, rallied and began taking the game to the Easter Road side.
Their captain and striker Klaemint Olsen, winner of the golden boot in four successive seasons in the Faroes, was their obvious threat, Darren McGregor just managing to get in front of him to nod a dangerous cross back into the arms of goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.
But, having weathered a bit of pressure, Hibs earned themselves a bit of breathing space as Kamberi got across in front of his marker to meet Martin Boyle’s cross to stab the ball home at the near post.
Another ball from Slivka presented Shaw with a half-chance to further increase Hibs’ lead but the angle proved too tight for the youngster. Shaw, however, was not to be denied, engineering an opening to drill an unstoppable low shot beyond Thomsen from 20 yards just before the half-hour mark.
Whistler Lukjancukas has earned himself something of a reputation for being card happy but he was content to let a number of hefty challenges go until Trondargjogv launched himself into a reckless challenge on Boyle and was immediately sent off. He could have had no complaint at all, it was a shocking challenge.
A free-kick whipped in by Knudsen gave Runavik, who were beginning to look a trifle ragged as the interval approached, a brief moment of respite although his effort was competently beaten round the post by Bogdan.
And even the Hibs goalkeeper would have had some sympathy for his opposite number when, left to deal with a “trundler” from Mallan, Thomsen let the ball slip through his hands to give the home side a four-goal lead as they headed for their half-time cuppa, Runavik’s No.55 atoning ever so slightly for his howler by getting down at the feet of Shaw to prevent a fifth.
The gulf in class had been evident and coach Hentze used his final two substitutes on the restart in a bid to stem the tide. Hibs, though, were relentless, widening the gap to five within three minutes as Kamberi claimed his third, the striker in the right place to meet Paul Hanlon’s low ball and slot it beyond the helpless Thomsen.
Thomsen pulled off a terrific one-handed save to prevent Shaw turning Boyle’s cross into the net seconds later before Runavik got themselves a goal totally against the run of play, Knudsen’s free-kick appearing to take a wicked deflection to leave Bogdan wrong-footed.
Shaw had the chance to restore Hibs’ five-goal advantage when left with only Thomsen to beat, but put his shot wide before Lewis Stevenson saw his header crash back off the woodwork as did Mallan with a stunning effort from 25 yards.
Mallan did even better, though, curling home a terrific free-kick, which Thomsen only managed to push onto the inside of his post and in as Hibs claimed their sixth goal of the game.
It was just the fifth time Hibs have managed six goals in a match in their long European history and they can now surely look forward to a second qualifying round tie against Greek side Asteras Tripolis.
Hibs (3-1-4-2): Bogdan; Ambrose, McGregor (Swanson 61), Hanlon; Whittaker; Boyle, Slivka, Mallan, Stevenson; Kamberi (S Murray 50), Shaw (Bartley 82). Unused subs: Laidlaw, Gray, Martin, Porteous.
NSI Runavik: (4-1-4-1): Thomsen: Ba Hansen, Davidsen (J Benjaminsen 71), Joensen, Trondargjogv; F Benjaminsen; Frederiksberg (Langgaard 79), Be Hansen (M Olsen 40), Justinussen, Knudsen; K Olsen. Unused subs: Gango, J Mortensen, Hentze, M Olsen, M Mortensen.
Referee: Manfredas Lukjancukas (Lithuania).