Hibs manager Neil Lennon admits he is immensely proud of his players’ Europa League victory over Asteras Tripolis and hailed goalkeeper Adam Bogdan as “world-class”.
A fraught 1-1 second-leg draw in Greece was enough to see the Leith side set up a third qualifying round clash with Norwegian team Molde with a 4-3 aggregate victory.
Hibs were in command after John McGinn notched a 43rd-minute goal before the home side had Michael Manias sent off in the 56th minute.
A rousing second-half performance from Asteras saw Kosmas Tsilianidis level on the evening and Savvas Pantelidis’ side were denied by inspired goalkeeping from on-loan Liverpool keeper Bogdan.
Lennon said: “I am very proud of the players, it’s a tremendous success to get through. It was everything I imagined it to be as I knew it would be a difficult night. We made it more difficult for ourselves, but we are good value for the result over both the ties.
“We are learning as we go and the journey now goes on. On the balance of play I believe we deserved it. It came down to game management and you need to give credit to our players, the game changed when we scored our goal and then when Asteras went down to ten men.
“When they scored it was poor defending from our point of view. We didn’t handle the game management as well as I would have liked.
“We should have been more comfortable with a man extra.”
Bogdan was at fault for the opening goal in the enthralling 3-2 first leg win but Lennon was more than happy with the Hungarian’s performance.
He added: “Adam was world-class. The save from the header was Gordon Banks-esque, I don’t know how he got that out.
“I’ve admired him for a long time. He’s had a bit of rust but tonight we saw his capabilities – and in Europe away from home you need your goalkeeper to play well. I know that from my own experiences as a player and manager at Celtic.”
Asteras manager Pantelidis, meanwhile, said: “Congratulations to my team, the second-half performance was outstanding because they gave all the effort and the way they managed the game was amazing.
“My players delivered their soul on the pitch and I believe we deserved the victory and to qualify for the next round.”