Hibs debrief: Brilliant Boyle, gargantuan Gogic, and a card-happy referee
Hibs’ long-awaited return to European football brought with it plenty of talking points, three red cards, two chalked-off goals and ultimately, a three-goal cushion going into the return leg.
Andorran opponents FC Santa Coloma were very much the underdogs and their gameplan seemed to be focused on stifling Hibs and hoping to sneak a goal if possible. In truth, the gulf in class was such that their only real moments of optimism came in the aftermath of Joe Newell’s controversial red card, as Hibs took time to adjust to being a man down.
Player of the match
Martin Boyle scored a brace and was a thorn in Santa Coloma’s side throughout, coming in for some rough treatment from the Andorrans, while Alex Gogic had a stormer in the middle of the park and could have got on the scoresheet with a couple of chances late on. Honourable mention to first-half substitute Kyle Magennis, who helped Hibs maintain the upper hand after going down to ten and set up the second goal.
Newell’s red allowed Santa Coloma to come back into the game but it was probably Hamza Ryahi’s dismissal that had the biggest effect as the visitors lost the run of themselves, with Robert Ramos following his team-mate down the tunnel soon after and Hibs controlling the final 25 minutes.
Vilhjalmur Thorarinsson has a reputation as a bit of a card-happy referee and he lived up to that. Newell’s dismissal was controversial and may be overturned with Hibs likely to appeal, while Santa Coloma’s players got away with far worse so it was no surprise when two of their players walked.
Thorarinsson baffled fans, players, and coaching staff alike throughout the 90 minutes and never really seemed to have full control over a game in which only one side wanted to play football.
Moment you may have missed
Kevin Nisbet constantly sniped at Robert Ramos after Newell’s sending off – nothing illegal; just robust challenges and the odd little word here and there whenever the two went head-to-head. It was the sort of savvy needed in games of this type to unsettle the opposition and the striker played the role to perfection.