Former captain Ian Murray backs Hibs to beat Molde & set up Europa League clash with Zenit St Petersburg


IAN MURRAY has backed Hibernian to see off Molde after running the rule over the Norwegians for his old club at the weekend.

Murray current plies his trade in Norway as assistant to ex-Hibs team-mate Kevin Nicol at second-tier outfit Asker.

He knows enough about Molde to accept that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will prove extremely tough opponents in the Europa League third qualifying round clash.

But Murray, who compiled a report for Neil Lennon from Molde’s 2-2 draw away to Lillestrom on Sunday, is convinced Hibs can progress to a likely play-off clash with Russian cracks Zenit St Petersburg.

The 37-year-old said: “I went to see Molde play Lillestrom on Sunday and I sent something on what I saw back to Hibs to help them out.

“They’re a very rigid 4-3-3 team, that’s what they do, regardless of what the score is. If it’s 4-0 for them or 4-0 against, they’ll stick to that formation.

“They look to play on the counter-attack with tidy football and they have two quite quick wingers and a good striker up front.

“So, they’re a decent side, but certainly there’s nothing for Hibs to be afraid of going into the games.

“It’s a good opportunity for Hibs. Famous last words, but I genuinely believe Hibs will qualify over the two legs.

“But one thing you can’t do is treat Molde lightly, because on their day they can hit you on the counter-attack and they can score goals.”

Murray was at Easter Road to see his former team roar back from two goals down to beat Asteras Tripolis 3-2 in the first-leg of the last round.

And the former Dumbarton and St Mirren boss took in last week’s away leg in Greece on television as Hibs hung on for a 4-3 aggregate victory.

The manner of that success, and Sunday’s 3-0 win against Motherwell, will have given the Leith men bags of confidence as they bid to keep their European adventure alive against Molde.

And Murray admits it is likely to all come down to fine margins against a Norwegian side he rates as on a par with Asteras.

He added to Capital City Press: “Neil Lennon saying they’re no better than Asteras is a fairly accurate assessment. I was thinking the same watching the game on Sunday.

“I was trying to judge them on the Greeks because I was at the first-leg of that tie at Easter Road and I watched the second-leg on television.

“I think that’s probably pretty fair; I don’t think they’re any better.

“If you put the three teams – Hibs, Asteras and Molde – into a mini-league, anyone could win it.

“So, it’s a decent draw for Hibs. It’s not a highly-intimidating place to go and play over there, and they won’t bring a large support over, I don’t think.

“It’s never an ideal draw but I think Hibs will be quite confident.”