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Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Sunday, 6 July 2008 16:56 UK

Hibernian 0-2 Elfsborg

By Colin Moffat

Dean Shiels battles for possession at Easter Road
A lack of match sharpness was painfully evident for Hibs

Hibernian's Intertoto Cup adventure looks to be short-lived after a dismal first leg defeat at home to Elfsborg.

The Swedes were much the sharper side throughout and Emir Bajrami prodded home an early opening goal.

Steven Fletcher came closest for Hibs when his smart shot from 18 yards was tipped away by goalkeeper Johan Wiland.

Andreas Augustsson's deflected shot on 64 minutes found the net and Elfsborg striker Daniel Mobaeck was guilty of wasting a number of good chances.

Having been comprehensively outplayed, Hibs must be questioning the wisdom of entering the tournament.

The Edinburgh side showed a few nice early touches in their first outing of the season but lacked potency up front and a creative spark in the middle of the park, while they faded dramatically after the interval.

Elfsborg were always in control and playmaker Anders Svensson was the game's dominant force, pulling the strings from central midfield.

The visitors were first to threaten when Denni Avdic threaded a neat pass in behind the Hibs defence and goalkeeper Yves Ma-Kalambay had to dive bravely at the feet of Mobaeck to thwart the danger.

Hibs replied with Dean Shiels setting Steven Fletcher up for a header which flew over the crossbar. Elfsborg were zipping the ball around confidently on the wet surface and took a deserved lead on 16 minutes.

Experienced Swedish international Svensson opened up the home defence with a drilled pass and Bajrami slipped a neat angled finish beyond Ma-Kalambay.

Visiting goalkeeper Johan Wiland made a good save with his legs to keep out a fierce low strike from Filipe Morais and comfortably gathered a header from John Rankin as Hibs sought a quick response.

However, Mobaeck squandered a great chance to increase the Elfsborg advantage when he scuffed a volley wide from 10 yards.

Wiland held on to a tame Fletcher free-kick and was marginally more stretched to clutch a curling effort from the lively Shiels.

Elfsborg made an impressive start to the second half and it needed a fantastic challenge from Paul Hanlon to deny Avdic a close range shooting opportunity.

Bajrami raced past several challenges to storm into the penalty area but Ma-Kalambay was able to get down and make the vital block.

Emir Bajrami (left) celebrates scoring the opening goal at Easter Road
Bajrami (left) celebrates scoring the opening goal

Augustsson then saw his powerful header knocked clear from the goal-line by Ian Murray as Hibs struggled to impose themselves on the game.

A loose ball broke to Fletcher on 63 minutes and the striker's shot from the edge of the penalty area was tipped away by the sprawling Wiland.

The Swedes extended their lead soon after when Hibs were caught napping at a corner as the ball was played straight to Augustsson and his deflected shot deceived Ma-Kalambay, although the keeper looked well placed to save.

The profligate Mobaeck should have punished a tiring Hibs further but he dragged a volley wide from the junction of the six yard box.

The same player was unlucky not to win a penalty when he was nicked by a mis-timed Martin Canning challenge as he shaped to shoot.

In the closing minutes, Avdic clipped the outside of the post with an angled drive.

Hibs travel to Sweden next Saturday, knowing a Scottish team has never come back from a home leg deficit in European competition.

Hibernian: Ma-Kalambay, van Zanten, Hanlon, Hogg, Jones, Murray, Kerr, Rankin, Fletcher, Shiels, Morais. Subs: McNeil, Canning, Stevenson, Chisholm, O'Brien, Campbell, Nish.

IF Elfsborg: Wiland, Floren, Karlsson, Andersson, Danielsson, Anders Svensson, Avdic, Mobaeck, Lucic, Bajrami, Augustsson. Subs: Hassan, Sjoberg, Sjohage, Nordmark, Ishizaki, Kurbeqovic.

see also
Hibs boss sees positives in loss
06 Jul 08 |  Hibernian
Intertoto Cup as it happened
06 Jul 08 |  Europe
Hibs aiming to strengthen squad
04 Jul 08 |  Hibernian

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