Talking points as Hibs brush aside league form to beat Luzern and set up Aston Villa Euro play-off

Hibs teed up a Europa Conference League play-off encounter with Aston Villa after a breathless 2-2 draw in Switzerland against Luzern.
Dylan Vente of Hibs and FC Luzern defender Marco Burch go head to head - literally - in the SwissporarenaDylan Vente of Hibs and FC Luzern defender Marco Burch go head to head - literally - in the Swissporarena
Dylan Vente of Hibs and FC Luzern defender Marco Burch go head to head - literally - in the Swissporarena

The Capital club led once and trailed once but ultimately found another gear after Karim Ademi’s header, following Jakub Kadak’s first-half strike, had put the hosts 2-1 up on the night and within a goal of extra time. Élie Youan, scorer of the opening goal, set up Martin Boyle for the equaliser and sparked scenes of bedlam in the away end.

As the club wrote on social media: ‘The Hibs rollercoaster keeps rolling in Europe’. And what a rollercoaster it is. When it’s bad, it’s hide-behind-the-sofa stuff. But when it’s good like it was in Luzern, and in Tripoli a few years back, it’s great. It might not make up for the back-to-back league defeat, but it will certainly help.

Marvellous Miller

Scenes of jubilation on the Hibs bench following Martin Boyle's strike at the Swissporarena. Picture: ContributedScenes of jubilation on the Hibs bench following Martin Boyle's strike at the Swissporarena. Picture: Contributed
Scenes of jubilation on the Hibs bench following Martin Boyle's strike at the Swissporarena. Picture: Contributed
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When Chris Cadden was ruled out for most of the first half of the 2023/24 campaign, many fans assumed right-back cover might be brought in to help cope with the steady player’s absence. Instead, Lee Johnson put his faith in Lewis Miller and the young Australian full-back has repaid that trust. There is still room for improvement in his all-round game but he put in some huge challenges against the Swiss and did well against Jakub Kadák on the Luzern left flank before the Czech made way for Teddy Okou and got forward well on occasion. He had a disrupted time adapting to the Scottish game but he is starting to show exactly why Hibs were so keen to secure his services.

Wing kings

Even before Boyle was back fit, Hibs fans were positively salivating at the prospect of the Australian internationalist on one wing and Youan on the other. In the Swissporarena they showed exactly why. Youan scored the first and made the second, Boyle scored the crucial second and was involved in one of the key moments in the first half when Nicky Beloko brought him down en route to goal. Both performances were all the more impressive given Boyle is still getting up to speed after his lengthy injury lay-off and Youan was battling a back problem earlier this week.

No case for the defence?

Individually there were some good moments for the Hibs defence – most of Miller’s performance, Lewis Stevenson clearing one off the line, and a few other positive incidents. But collectively the back line had more holes than the local cheese at some points and Luzern boss Mario Frick will be wondering quite how his team didn’t manage to score more than their two goals on the night. Hibs have now conceded ten goals in their last six competitive games and one would imagine the porous tendencies of his rearguard will be giving Johnson cause for concern, especially with half of those goals already conceded in cinch Premiership matches.

Consistency?

One question the coaching staff will be looking to answer is why Hibs can play the way they did at times against Luzern, yet not do it on league duty. Neither performance against the Swiss was flawless but both displays were significantly better over the piece than their league encounters so far. It will be interesting to see how they fare against Raith Rovers on Viaplay Cup duty this weekend.