After Celtic salvaged a modicum of respectability for Scottish Football on Wednesday night after beating Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar that was eroded last night after Hearts were dumped out of the Europa League by Maltese side Birkirkara.
After a goalless draw in the sweltering Maltese heat last Thursday, it was a terrible night at Tynecastle for Robbie Neilson’s side as they found themselves 2-0 down with 23 minutes to go, meaning that they would then have to score three times to progress to the next qualifying round. Connor Salmon managed to half the deficit with a quarter of an hour to go but it was nowhere near enough and Hearts found their European hopes broken for another season.
Their cross city rivals Hibs fared no better, after a 1-0 defeat to Brondby in the first and Neil Lennon serving a touchline ban after being sent to the stands during the first leg they had an uphill task to turn around the deficit. But Scottish Cup hero David Gray was once again the man of the moment as he scored the goal to put Hibs ahead on the night and level things at 1-1 in the tie.
After the end of 90 minutes it bought no more goals and that meant extra time and the prospect of penalties, but 30 more minutes of playing time couldn’t separate so the lottery of spot kicks loomed large. But it was to be heartbreak for Hibs as John McGinn missed Hibs’ first penalty in the shootout, and despite Paul Hanlon, Grant Holt and Martin Boyle converting theirs, Brondby took it 5-3.
Aberdeen will be flying the flag for Scotland in the next round as they ran out 1-0 winners against Latvian side Ventspils to win 4-0 on aggregate. While other British interest saw Connah’s Quay lose to Serbia’s FK Vojvodina and Cliftonville lose 2-0 to AEK Larnaca to go out 5-2 on aggregate.
Here is the draw for the third qualifying round