Hibernian’s European adventure is over after the cinch Premiership side lost their Europa Conference League third-round qualifier against Rijeka.
A 1-1 draw at Easter Road had given Jack Ross’ side hope of progressing, but a 4-1 defeat in Croatia in the second leg on Thursday saw the Edinburgh club eliminated 5-2 on aggregate.
It was going well until midway through the second half, when – with the score at 1-1 on the night after Kyle Magennis had cancelled out Domagoj Pavicic’s opener for the hosts – Darren McGregor was shown a red card.
Playing with 10 men proved too much for Hibs and Rijeka wasted no time in making full use of their numerical advantage, as Issah Abass struck and Paul McGinn netted an own goal before Denis Busnja completed the scoring in injury time.
Paul Hanlon and Christian Doidge were absent through injury, but Kevin Nisbet shook off a knock to return and replace the latter up front. McGregor replaced Hanlon and partnered Ryan Porteous in central defence.
The home side made a lively start to the match, with Hibs looking for openings on the counter attack.
Rijeka had a four-against-three inside the penalty area as they looked for an early goal, but McGregor made an important block to divert a goalbound shot away with his head.
Ross’ side grew into the game and threatened for the first time after the half-hour mark, with Jamie Murphy forcing a good save from the Rijeka goalkeeper.
The hosts went ahead after 36 minutes when a low cross into the box was turned home by Pavicic.
Matt Macey had to make an excellent save to keep the deficit to a single goal, as Rijeka sensed they had their opponents on the ropes.
But Hibs survived and actually finished the first half on the front foot with efforts from Murphy and Nisbet both forcing fine saves from Andrej Prskalo.
Magennis levelled things up on the night and on aggregate early in the second half when he pounced on a loose ball and smashed a low, left-foot shot beyond the goalkeeper.
However, disaster struck for Ross’ side with the 67th-minute red card for McGregor, who was sent off for a second yellow-card offence.
A minute later, Abass scored following a corner and Hibs had it all to do. It got worse just five minutes later when McGinn turned into his own net to seal the tie for the Croatian team.
Hibs kept plugging away and McGinn got into a good area inside the box before playing a dangerous ball across the face of goal, but nobody could get on the end of it.
Rijeka made it 4-1 on the night in injury time when Busnja completed the scoring.