Hibernian 2 Odense 1: Canny Dalglish strike fails to revive Hibs

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The Independent Online

Heroic failure was something Bruce Rioch confronted 28 years ago. Yesterday the former Scotland captain, now managing Odense, enjoyed a role reversal as his side snatched a place in the Uefa Cup from under the noses of Hibernian.

Not even a goal from Dalglish - Paul, not Kenny, who was Rioch's colleague at the 1978 World Cup - could prevent the Danes from edging through this Intertoto Cup second-round tie on the away goals rule, Tobias Grahn's second-half finish proving costly to Hibs.

At this time of year, Edinburgh's sporting attraction is sometimes reserved for Muirfield. However, with The Open elsewhere, the only greens to capture the public's attention were Hibernian.

Tony Mowbray's side were using the Intertoto route into the Uefa Cup after missing out on direct entry despite finishing fourth in the Scottish Premier League last season. Since then, Hibernian have lost their captain and top scorer, Gary Caldwell and Derek Riordan respectively, to Celtic but remain a side of genuine potential.

Odense is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen but even the fabled Dane might have smiled at the nice plot twist to this contest that had Mowbray coming up against his mentor Rioch. The pair were together at Middlesbrough two decades ago but Rioch's current role illustrates his low managerial profile since making way for Arsène Wenger at Arsenal 10 years ago.

Hibernian showed a real eagerness to wipe out the 1-0 lead Odense took in the first leg a week earlier, with Abdessalam Benjelloun's trickery creating space for a shot that was almost deflected into the net while Stephen Glass's fierce shot was beaten away by Arek Onyszko, the Odense goalkeeper.

Then Benjelloun's shot was blocked by Ulrik Laursen, the Odense skipper who spent two years as a Hibernian player. The Danes could have stolen the lead before half-time had Chris Hogg not cleared away Grahn's menacing cross but Dalglish's raking shot crept wide to bolster Easter Road's optimism.

Glass fired another effort over early in the second half but it was Odense who would finally break the deadlock in the 51st minute when Grahn gathered a fine pass from Morten Fevang and kept his composure to steer a shot beyond Simon Brown from just inside the box.

That away goal meant that Hibernian now needed to score three times and the task was swiftly amended when Rob Jones replied with an equaliser within three minutes. Ivan Sproule's pace won a corner that was never properly cleared and when Michael Stewart's volley bounced up from the turf, Jones leapt and guided a header past Onyszko from 16 yards.

Kevin Thomson and Glass both curled efforts just wide in the ceaseless pursuit and Dalglish set up a dramatic conclusion when he scored with nine minutes left. The former Newcastle player showed his celebrated father's eye in the box as he deftly turned Steven Whittaker's measured cross in off the post with his outstretched leg.

However, despite intense pressure, the final goal that Hibernian craved never materialised and Mowbray's team will have to content themselves with domestic football this season.

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