Patrick McPartlin mulls over a tough 90 minutes in Molde that signalled the end of Hibs’ European adventure
Hibs fans would have been relishing the chance to see Flo Kamberi and Jamie Maclaren partnering each other in attack for the first time since the 5-5 draw with Rangers, but last season’s deadly duo found it tough going against a disciplined Molde backline.
Maclaren had the best chance of the game for Neil Lennon’s side, hitting the post with a header after Lewis Stevenson did well to hook the ball across goal, but Kamberi - who may not be fully over his knee injury - cut a frustrated figure at times as Ruben Gabrielsen and Veggard Forren dealt well with the Easter Road side’s attacks.
Maclaren has admitted himself that he’s not quite at 100 per cent, so Hibs fans may not have too long to wait to see the pair getting back on the scoresheet regularly.
Haaland the hero
The absence of Erling Braut Haaland from the first leg prompted comments about Molde looking toothless up top, but the towering striker - linked with a big money move to Red Bull Salzburg in Austria - was restored to the starting line-up and made the difference for the Eliteserien outfit.
He bundled home the opener on 35 minutes, squared for Fredrik Aursnes to double Molde’s advantage and added a third with time running out. Haaland only turned 18 last month but he has an old head on young shoulders and he made his presence felt for the 83 minutes he was on the park whether it was holding the ball up, playing in others or running the Hibs defence ragged.
Haaland will undoubtedly go onto bigger and better things in his career but he was Molde’s star for this game.
No Dylan McGeouch, no John McGinn and after half an hour of last night’s game, no Marvin Bartley either. The absence of the trio rendered the Hibs midfield virtually anonymous for periods at the Aker Stadion. Vykintas Slivka and Emerson Hyndman struggled at times to deal with their opponents, and while Stevie Mallan started brightly he faded as the game wore on.
Neil Lennon has already bolstered his options out wide with the captures of Thomas Agyepong and Daryl Horgan, but with two weeks left of the transfer window, his attention will surely turn to the middle of the park, where there is a McGinn-sized hole needing filled as a matter of urgency.