It was a scene that Scottish football has unfortunately become accustomed to in recent years. Hibs were trailing Asteras Tripolis by two goals at half-time in last week’s second qualifying round clash at Easter Road and staring down the barrel at an early Europa League exit.
An unlikely second half fight-back, however, has ensured Neil Lennon’s side take a narrow 3-2 lead to Greece for tomrrow’s second leg and forward Martin Boyle is adamant that the team make the most of the life-line they have given themselves.
Efe Ambrose, David Gray and Flo Kamberi all found the net on a memorable night in Leith after Georgics Kyriakopoulous notched a ruthless brace inside the opening 35 minutes for the visitors.
“We’ve given ourselves a lifeline, absolutely. We don’t want all our hard work from last year to go to waste by going out early,” he said.
“We really want to give this a try, we know it’s a tough ask to win over here. They will make it tough and they want to win as much as us.
“We knew ourselves the first half wasn’t good enough last week; we were huffing and huffing and went two goals down – and we needed that kick up the back side at half-time.
“We stood off them and they scored two goals and we could maybe have avoided that.
“But we eventually came into our own and we could have scored much more than the three goals.
“We now need to build on that, the vital thing is not to give away any more cheap goals.
“I’m sure this squad will get better but we need to concentrate on this game.
“Hopefully we can finish it off, it’s going to be a tough ask away from home but we’ll play our normal game, attack and hopefully we can keep the ball and cause them problems.”
Hibs will encounter searing 30 degree Celsius heat and a Tripolis side determined to bounce back from their late collapse.
After being guilty of naivety in the first leg, Boyle admits they need to be streetwise in Greece.
“I’ve not played abroad a lot, it will be very hot and the weather conditions will come into it,” said the former Dundee and Montrose player.
“We’ll have a few days to train and adapt to it and hopefully we play our normal game and have no worries.
“Europe requires a need to set the tempo and keep the ball.
“In the first half of the first-leg at home we weren’t as patient as we could have been.
“We were also sloppy with the ball but in the second half we were much more patient and stuck to the task of breaking the opposition down.
“We then started making opportunities and getting crosses into the box.
“The key was to get crosses into the box and we started to do that.
“That will once again be the key to the game in Greece.”
Hibs jetted out of Edinburgh airpot yesterday afternoon minus the 50 supporters whose bookings on the official charter had to be cancelled at late notice.
A enforced switch of aircraft meant there was no longer room to accommodate the unfortunate fans.
Norwegian side Molde are expected to meet the winners of the Hibs tie and Boyle is hoping the team can set up another trip for those affected.
He added: “We need to give our all no matter the circumstances. It’s out of our hands what’s happened but it’s certainly not nice.
“We know they were all desperate to get on the fight to support us and it’s been a massive disappointment but now all we can do is try to make sure we get qualified for them.”
“With Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen all in with a chance of progressing from their respective games, Boyle is well are Scottish football could be given a timely shot in the arm this week.
“As long as we put in a good performance we’re always confident,” said Boyle.
“Last week was a good week for Scottish clubs in Europe; Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen all did well and if we can all qualify this week it will be good for the country.
“Reaching the group stage is the main aim – we believe it’s achievable but we’re taking the ties game by game.
“It’s not set in stone. We’ve a big job to go out to Greece and do. If we can do that we can look forward to the next stage.”