Jacob Blaney hopes Hibs' Youth League experience can power first-team aim

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Jacob Blaney is hopeful that Hibs’ impressive UEFA Youth League campaign can help him obtain regular first-team football.

The defender put in an impressive performance, scoring a 26th-minute opener from Robbie Hamilton’s free kick, and performing well in defence alongside Owen Hastie and Kanayo Megwa.

"We’re disappointed, we thought we were capable of winning the game and in the space of what, 15 minutes, it all turned around. It’s a learning process and we just need to go again,” he said afterwards. “I felt we played better than them – I think they got a shock from us. They maybe didn’t expect us to be as good as we were and that just makes us more proud because what more can you ask for?"

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Blaney has already made his league debut as a substitute in the 4-0 victory over St Johnstone in May last year, and he got gametime again during the Premier Sports Cup group stage in the summer. The next step is featuring more regularly at first-team level and Blaney is hopeful that his Youth League experience can help him kick on.

Jacob Blaney wheels away after scoring against DortmundJacob Blaney wheels away after scoring against Dortmund
Jacob Blaney wheels away after scoring against Dortmund

“Every Hibs player, to a man, was excellent and that’s all you can ask for. In this tournament we’ve played against the best players, and that’s what you need to do to progress. This is the level I want to be at and it will help me in may career going forwards,” he adds. “The standard at this level is unreal, it’s the standard I want to play at, and hopefully it can help me progress to first-team football.”

There was drama late on as Hibs thought they had forced penalties with an injury-time leveller only for the ball not to cross the line and at full time there was a bit of a rammy between some players from both sides but Blaney concedes the appeals were doomed to fail.

"We thought we’d scored from the corner,” he explains. “I personally thought the ball had slipped through the goalie’s hands and over the line, but it wasn’t to be. The referee decided it wasn’t a goal so we just had to take it.”

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It’s the second time Blaney has scored at Easter Road in the competition, although this goal might have just edged it in terms of significance over his effort in the second leg against Molde back in October, but the centre-back had no idea what to do when his first-half header found the net.

Blaney, centre, celebrates his goal with his team-mates including Malek Zaid, left, and Oscar MacIntyre, rightBlaney, centre, celebrates his goal with his team-mates including Malek Zaid, left, and Oscar MacIntyre, right
Blaney, centre, celebrates his goal with his team-mates including Malek Zaid, left, and Oscar MacIntyre, right

"What was going through my head after scoring? Absolutely nothing! My mind was a blank, I didn’t know what to do, it was all just a bit crazy,” Blaney recalls. “Darren McGregor tells me, ‘every ball that comes into the box, make sure it’s yours,” so that’s what I was thinking when the free kick came in.”

Blaney almost scored a stoppage-time leveller with a thunderous free kick, with Dortmund ‘keeper Silas Ostrzinski fumbling the ball over the bar for a corner.

"The ‘keeper maybe got a bit lucky there – for a moment I thought I was going to get a double,” Blaney adds wistfully. “I suppose in fairness he did well to get it over the bar, didn’t he? It sometimes comes down to luck on the day, and it just wasn’t to be for us.”

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