Hibs left with ‘regrets’ after Europa League exit in Molde

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Neil Lennon believes his players will be weighed down by regret following their Europa League exit against Molde.

The Hibees’ continental campaign came to an end courtesy of a 3-0 reverse at the Aker Stadium, with the hosts inspired by the brilliance of Erling Braut Haaland.

Erling Braut Haaland, right, celebrates scoring Molde's third goal against Hibs

Erling Braut Haaland, right, celebrates scoring Molde's third goal against Hibs

The Capital club were left to rue a host of missed opportunities, with Martin Boyle passing up a glorious chance at the back post during a good spell for Lennon’s men in the second half before Jamie Maclaren struck the post with the score at 2-0.

It was deja vu for Hibs, who hit the bar in last week’s stalemate at Easter Road and forced two marvellous saves from Molde goalkeeper Andreas Linde.

“A few of the players will have some regrets over the two legs,” said Lennon. “We had good chances – in the first leg as well – and we didn’t take them in either game.

“[Martin] Boyle got in a couple of times last night and should do better. We’ve hit the post through [Jamie] Maclaren as well. So we only have ourselves to blame. We’ve let this one slip.

“The most disappointing aspect was that we didn’t score. We had a really good spell at 1-0 and we should have scored and that would have changed the psychology and complexion of the tie. The second goal was the killer. We threw caution to the wind after that and the third goal was academic.

“However, I felt 3-0 flattered Molde. On paper the scoreline makes it look like Molde were by far the better team. That was not the case at all.”

Such profligacy was not an issue for Molde, who were able to call upon Haaland, who looks every inch the superstar he is being billed as. He scored twice and set up Frederik Aursnes’ killer second. “I thought Haaland was the difference between the two teams,” Lennon acknowledged. “You can see why he is a very sought-after player.

“I can’t berate my players. Molde are a good side and I wish them well in the competition.”

Lennon, who confirmed that Marvin Bartley could be out for up to eight weeks after limping off with a hamstring injury, will now turn his attention to domestic matters and ensuring Hibs return to the European stage again next term.

And, having banked £2.75 million for the sale of John McGinn to Aston Villa, he hopes to be backed in the transfer market.

“Can this be the benchmark? I hope so,” he added. “But I think we need more investment. We need to bring in a couple more players because the squad is definitely thin.

“I’ve had to use some younger players but it’s been a good experience for them. We are in a healthy position – but I always want more. I had aspirations of trying to make the group stages but it’s not to be. Now I’m looking 
to have a strong season 
domestically.”