NSI star Knudsen tips Hibees to make Europa League group stage
NSi Runavik striker Petur Knudsen believes Hibs can realise boss Neil Lennon's dream of reaching the group stages of the Europa League.
The Easter Road side took a first step towards that goal, hammering the minnows from the Faroe Islands 6-1 seven days ago to leave tonight’s second leg at the Toftir Stadium a formality with Greek outfit Asteras Tripolis lying in wait in the next qualifying round.
While admitting Hibs will find it increasingly tougher the further they go, Knudsen, who claimed Runavik’s consolation goal with a wildly-deflected free-kick, admitted he’d been highly impressed by what he’d seen in Edinburgh.
The under-21 internationalist, son of the famous Faroese bobble-hat wearing goalkeeper Jens Martin Knudsen, said: “Hibs were physically stronger than us and the players they have brought in from Europe had real quality.
“One of them, [Florian] Kamberi, scored a hat-trick and that made a big difference. But the truth was they were better than us in every position on the pitch.
“They will have ambitions to get to the group stages and if they play as they did in Edinburgh, and have a little bit of luck along the way, then why shouldn’t they?
“It will be difficult because the further you go, the better the teams you play are, but if you have quality players you always have a chance.”
Knudsen admitted finding themselves playing against ten men after Runavik defender Einar Trondargjogv-Hansen had been sent off after only half-an-hour for a wild lunge on Martin Boyle had made things that little bit easier for Hibs.
However, he had no quibble with the red card.
But even with that helping hand, Knudsen admitted Hibs were just too good against a side which has played regularly in the Europa League in recent seasons although they have won just two of their 23 European games and have never gone beyond the first round.
He said: “In our last three seasons in Europe we’ve played a team from Northern Ireland and two clubs from Belarus. We went out to all of them but Hibs were a class above them.”