Neil Lennon: Hibs can get job done in Molde after first-leg stalemate

Neil Lennon insists Hibs can go to Norway and get the goals that will take the Easter Road side into a Europa League play-off spot.

The Capital outfit drew a rare blank as the first leg of their third qualifying round with Molde ended goalless, Hibs midfielder Stevie Mallan hitting a shot off the bar in the first half while goalkeeper Andreas Linde pulled off a series of notable saves including an injury-time stop from substitute Emerson Hyndman.

Emerson Hyndman goes close with a header as Hibs drew with Molde. Pic: SNS

Emerson Hyndman goes close with a header as Hibs drew with Molde. Pic: SNS

Lennon admitted to a “tinge of disappointment” at not having scored, with Hibs’ previous four ties in Europe having produced 16 goals for his side. However, he pointed to the fact his players had gone to Greece in the previous round and Denmark two years ago and found the net.

It was, he insisted, important to have kept a clean sheet meaning that both teams need to score if they are to progress to potentially face Dinamo Minsk, surprise 4-0 winners last night against Zenit St Petersburg.

He said: “It was a good game. I think we played very maturely and were unlucky. The goalkeeper has made two or three good saves. There weren’t many clear cut chances in the game.

“We are novices at this level, but I thought they handled the game well and I am pleased about that.

“Molde were very good in possession at times and knew how to take the sting out of things, but for where we are in terms of the start of our season we are still in the tie and I am pleased about that.

“We know we will have to score over there, but so will Molde. Nil-nil can be a negative but also a positive. I am delighted with the clean sheet.

“The game was in the balance for long spells but we looked the side more likely to score considering where we are with third-choice goalkeeper [Ross Laidlaw] in, young Ryan Porteous at the back, Flo Kamberi not 100 per cent fit, so I thought it was a good performance.

“I thought Mallan was outstanding, Ambrose, Porteous very good. I did think we could have done a little bit more in the final third, but I’m not disappointed at all.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will undoubtedly be regarded as favourites to win in their own Aker Stadion, but Lennon insisted he retains full faith in his players.

He said: “Molde will have more of the ball, they are comfortable on the ball. We flagged a bit at the end which is understandable given where they are in terms of games played, but we will be a game fitter and looking to make our mark next week.

“I don’t see why we can’t go there and score. We will have to defend well and try to pick our moments. We aren’t going to go there and just sit in and try to defend all night.

“I definitely believe we can score. we’ve done it in Greece, in Brondby. There’s plenty in it still for them to think about things.

“Mallan was brilliant, he was so unlucky not to score. It was a tremendous effort that hit the bar and he had another couple of pops. He’s been a huge source of encouragement for me since he came in. I’m delighted with him as I am delighted with the likes of young Porteous.”

Meanwhile, over in Belarus, Dinamo Minsk took a giant step towards facing Hibs or Molde play-off round with that sensational 4-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg at home.

The hosts took the lead on 12 minutes through Uros Nikolic and a doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark thanks to a strike from Vladimir Khvashchinski.

Minsk added a third just before half-time after Nino Galovic netted and a further goal from Nikolic on 67 minutes leaved Zenit with a mountain to climb next week in Russia.