Hibs ace believes Luzern were lucky to finish Easter Road clash with 11 men
Both captain Max Meyer and forward Kemal Ademi were fortunate to only receive yellow cards during a fiery second half. Meyer cleared out Dylan Vente with a vicious shoulder charge while Ademi went in high on Miller a short time later.
This culminated in a pushing match with Joe Newell being booked for kicking the ball at Ademi and then briefly squaring up to the tall striker. Players from both sides then got involved with the officials forced to intervene and attempt to calm things down.
If this was a deliberate tactic by Mario Frick’s side then it didn’t work. Though they were able to cancel out Joe Newell’s opener through a Ismajl Beka header, summer signings Dylan Vente (on his debut) and Jordan Obita both netted to give Lee Johnson’s side a two-goal advantage going into the second leg in Switzerland next week.
Miller felt the rough treatment dished out was a sign Luzern had allowed their hosts to get inside their heads and were trying to do whatever possible to gain the psychological advantage.
“I am very biased but I thought there definitely could have been some red cards,” said Miller. “There was one on Vente that was very late when they shoulder-charged there. There was a very late, studs-up, on me as well which I thought was going to be a red card. When I got back up and saw he got a yellow, I was fuming.
"When they are making challenges like that, that is when you know you've got in their heads, when they are doing all they can to throw us off our game. In the end they didn’t do enough.
“We knew they were going to be physical but we didn’t know exactly how physical. I think if you look at some of the players we have, we are probably one of the more physical teams in the league. We’ve got great strength and conditioning staff and coaches here and we are all ft and ready to play week in, week out.
"If you look at the size of some of the guys in our team, they’re massive, they’re ripped. We are doing everything we can but it is all about the variables.”
Miller moved to the Capital last summer after Hibs agreed to sign him from Central Coast Mariners. Like his fellow countryman across the city in Hearts midfielder Cammy Devlin, Miller considers himself an Aussie who is already built to handle the physical nature of the game in Scotland.
That attitude helped Miller on Thursday evening as he stood up to what Luzern had to offer – and even gave a bit of chat back to opposing wingers Teddy Okou and Kevin Spadanuda as he sought to find any edge he could to help his side win the game.
“Football is a big psychological game as well and I consider myself quite a fiery and aggressive player so whatever comes into my mind somehow just spills out, whether I like it or not,” said Miller. “But at the end of the day I do what I do to get inside the opposition’s heads and win the game.
“If they bite back, that’s when you know that you’ve done the right thing and you’ve got in their head. That’s when you know you’ve got them off their game and that's a big part of things for me, especially with the wingers. With Luzern, it was the same with both their wingers and they moved the left one to the right and the right one to the left. So you have to understand the players you are playing against and they are a high profile team with a lot of great players so it was a way of managing them and I thought I did my part.
“In Scotland it is a very physical game and I think they are maybe a little bit smaller in Europe but they are a lot more technical and the intensity is a level we aspire to play at. I thought we matched them, if not were even better than them, on the day and we just need to maintain that now.
“We will go back to do analysis on the game and see what we can improve on and come back with another win in the second leg.
“I was on the floor for about 50 per cent of the game, wasn’t I? I shouldn't have been going down as much for as big as I am – it didn’t make sense – but it was always going to be a battle and I love that about football. You give all you can and die on the battlefield.”
During the skirmish which started after Newell and Ademi’s altercation, referee Robertas Valikonis dropped a spare yellow card as he cautioned the Hibs midfielder. This enabled Martin Boyle to pick up the card and mimic “booking” several opposition players in a moment of levity which induced much hilarity among the Easter Road dressing room and the club’s fans on social media.
"I saw that at the end of the game,” said Miller, laughing. “All the boys walked back into the changing room and were showing me the videos of Boyler with the yellow card, going around showing it to everyone! It was very funny but that sums him up. He is just enjoying himself and he has a lot of energy and charisma and we boys thrive off that. He is a top man.”