NEIL LENNON was left torn between frustration and pride after watching Hibernian’s Europa League adventure end with a 3-0 defeat against Molde.
Rising Norwegian star Erling Braut Haaland was unplayable at the Aker Stadium, the 18-year-old bagging a brace and laying another goal on a plate for Fredrik Aursnes.
However, the 3-0 aggregate scoreline hugely flattered Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, given Hibs struck the post through Jamie Maclaren and saw Martin Boyle pass up a wonderful chance in the second period.
They also dominated the first leg in Edinburgh without finding the net, with Stevie Mallan rattling the crossbar.
And, as Lennon reflects on victories over Runavik, Asteras Tripolis and their showings over two legs against Molde, he is far from despondent.
“We’ve competed very well in Europe,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of money to spend and we’ve lost our best player [John McGinn]. It’s still very early in our season and the boys can be proud of their efforts.
“Can this be the benchmark? I hope so, but I think we need more investment. We need to bring in a couple more players because the squad is definitely thin. We are in a healthy position – but I always want more.
“I had aspirations of trying to make the group stages but it’s not to be.”
However, Lennon added: “A few of the players will have some regrets over the two legs.
“We had good chances – in the first leg as well – and we didn’t take them so we only have ourselves to blame. We’ve let this one slip. Boyle got in a couple of times and we should do better. We’ve hit the post as well.
“We should have scored and that would have changed the psychology and complexion of the tie. The second goal was the killer. We threw caution to the wind after that and the third goal was academic. I felt 3-0 flattered Molde.”
Molde now progress to a play-off round tie with Russian side Zenit St Petersburg, the 2008 Europa League winners.
Solskjaer said: “Hibs made it hard for us, they have pace and strength up front and they never allowed us to settle down. We rode our luck a little bit.”