FK Vojvodina virtually secured a place in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League after defeating Hibernians 4-1 in the first leg at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday.
Two goals late in the first half paved the way for the Serbian cup finalists who had eliminated the Paolites with a 7-1 aggregate score in a UEFA Cup qualifier.
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New Hibernians coach Branko Nisevic handed Matthew Tabone – who was on loan with Vittoriosa last season – a place in the starting line-up with Jackson Lima starting the game on the bench. Zoran Levnajic was ruled out injured.
The visitors had the first attempt at goal on the 19th with Petar Skuletic having a first attempt blocked by a defender and hitting just over the bar off the rebound. Three minutes later, off a cross by Cohen from the left, Tarabai’s header was deflected into a corner.
Enver Alivodic almost surprised Muscat with a shot from outside the area on 23 minutes but the Hibs goalkeeper somehow turned the ball into a corner. From the resulting corner by Vranjes, Skuletic’s header just missed the target. Clayton Failla then missed a good opportunity for Hibernians, hitting high from an ideal position on the right when served by Obiefule on 29 minutes.
Vojvodina went close once again on 36 minutes when Aboubakar served Poletanovic on the right and the latter’s first-time effort was deflected into a corner by the Hibs custodian. In a swift counter attack for the Paolites, Tarabai sent Cohen through on the right and the latter’s cross was intercepted by Trajkovic before Obiefule could connect.
Five minutes from the end of the first half, Vojvodina managed to break the deadlock when off a cross by Alivodic from the right, Petar Skuletic hit home from close range.
Two minutes later, Hibs were unlucky to suffer a second goal when off a cross by Poletanovic from the left, in an attempt to anticipate Skuletic, Rodolfo Soares deflected the ball past Muscat for an own goal.
Hibernians went close to reducing the gap three minutes in the second half thanks to a good move by Obinna Obiefule but his conclusion from the edge of the area ended just wide.
However two minutes later, Oumarou Aboubakar rounded number of players before beating Muscat with a fine shot from a close angle for Vojvodina’s third goal.
Edison Luis dos Santos had a fine header from the right saved by the Serbian goalkeeper on 62 minutes and in a swift counter-attack for Vojvodina, Alivodic advanced on the left, serving Aboubakar who controlled the ball before having a close-range shot blocked by Mario Muscat into a corner. A few seconds later, Vranjes released substitute Bilbija inside the area but his low shot from the left was neutralised by the Hibs custodian.
Hibernians were awarded a penalty on the 77th minute after Tarabai was brought down inside the area by goalkeeper Marko Kordic. However the latter performed a good save on Clayton Failla’s effort from the penalty spot.
A few seconds later, Hibs pulled one back when a low shot by Bjorn Kristensen was cleared off the goal line by Vulicevic and off the rebound, Obinna Obiefule placed the ball at the back of the net.
Substitute Nebojsa Kosovic made it 4-1 eight minutes from time when he slotted the ball past Muscat off an assist by Aboubakar from the left.
The visitors were reduced to ten men on the 89th minute when defender Igor Djuric received a second yellow card for time-wasting.
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HIBS Mario Muscat, Bjorn Kristensen, Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Pearson, Marcelo Dias (66′ Neil Chetcuti), Clayton Failla, Matthew Tabone (65′ Jackson de Lima Siqueira), Rodolfo Soares dos Santos, Andrew Cohen, Obinna Polycarp Obiefule (78′ Jean Paul Farrugia), Edison Luis dos Santos.
VOJVODINA Marko Kordic, Nemanja Radoja, Branislav Trajkovic, Enver Alivodic (88′ Mijat Gacinovic), Petar Skuletic (58′ Nemanja Bilbija), Stojan Vranjes (71′ Nebojsa Kosovic), Oumarou Aboubakar, Mario Baric, Marko Poletanovic, Miroslav Vulicevic, Igor Djuric.
Referee: Suren Baliyan (ARM)
Assistant referees: Mesrop Ghazaryan (ARM), Vanik Simonyan (ARM)
Fourth official: Arman Ghushchyan (ARM)
Yellow Cards: Djuric, Dias, Tarabai