By: Hibernian Media on 09 Aug, 2018 22:34
It ended in stalemate on Thursday evening between Hibernian and FK Molde in the UEFA Europa League Third Qualifying Round, writes Richard Payne.
Hibernian enjoyed the majority of goalscoring opportunities in a tense contest only to be denied by inspired goalkeeping from Andreas Linde and the woodwork.
Stevie Mallan could’ve had a first half hat-trick had it not been from Linde’s heroics and when he did get the ball beyond the goalkeeper he found his shot crashed back into play off the upright.
The Norwegian’s didn’t afford Hibernian many opportunities after the break however the Easter Road men hit the woodwork for a second time when Linde produced a wonderful save to push David Gray’s net-bound header onto the post.
The teams came out to a vociferous welcome as Hibernian went quickly on to the attack and penned Molde back in the opening exchanges.
In only the second minute of the game Martin Boyle pounced on slack play from Kristoffer Haugen to steal possession and drive into the Molde box; his low cross was cut-out and although Vykintas Slivka was onto the loose ball, his shot was blocked and earned his side a corner kick.
Two minutes later and Mallan wasn’t far away with a volley that was just over Linde’s crossbar after Molde had once again failed to clear their lines properly – this time from a David Gray delivery.
Hibernian were pushing hard looking for the game’s opening goal and in the 9th minute a rasping strike from Slivka stung the hands of Linde, who gathered at the second attempt.
Midfielder Mallan has proven to be a potent threat from distance for Hibernian and he almost notched his sixth goal of the campaign with a dipping shot from distance that gave Linde no change only to crash back off the upright.
Having weathered the early pressure, the visitors soon settled into their rhythm and began probing the Hibernian backline.
During one such move Etzaz Hussain threaded the ball in behind the home defence on the Molde right for Petter Strand; his low, driven cross was aimed for Daniel Chima who would’ve been left with a tap-in had Paul Hanlon not slid in to cut-out the pass.
Linde ensured parity continued with two terrific saves to deny Mallan as the former St Mirren man once again went close.
Molde’s best opportunity in the first half came on 35 minutes when Chima was picked out unmarked at a corner kick, however the striker tamely headered wide of goal.
Shortly before the break Ole Gunnar Solskjar’s side carved out another opportunity when Stand slipped the ball through to Haugen and his low cross was knocked wide by Chima from close range.
After the break Molde looked to retain possession better than they did during the first half and slow the play down.
The visitors managed that whilst also getting forward and winning a series of corner kicks that ultimately came to nothing.
In the 56th minute a wonderful low cross from Gray was met by the sliding frame of Boyle and although the attacker got the ball beyond Linde, it flashed agonisingly wide of goal.
Two minutes later and Linde once again was the Norwegian’s hero after the goalkeeper produced a stunning save to push Gray’s powerful header onto the post and gather before it could be poked home.
With ten minutes remaining Neil Lennon introduced Oli Shaw and debutant Emerson Hyndman and the former Rangers man almost won it at the death for his new side.
A terrific ball from Mallan was knocked down by the head of Gray and Hyndman’s first-time strike was instinctively saved by Linde.
A good performance from Lennon’s men who were denied time and again by an inspired visiting goalkeeper. It’s all to play for next week in Norway.
Hibernian: Laidlaw, Gray, Hanlon, Bartley (Hyndman 80’), Slivka, Boyle (Maclaren 90’), Mallan, Stevenson, Kamberi (Shaw 80’), Ambrose, Porteous. Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Whittaker, Swanson, Murray.
Molde FK: Linde, Gabrielsen, Forren, Gregersen, Wolff Eikrem (James 61’), Sarr, Strand, Hussain, Hestad (Cibicki 89’), Chima (Mostrom 71’), Haugen. Substitutes not used: Ranmark, Ssewankambo, Remmer, Brustad.
Referee: Adam Farkas (HUN).