Hibernian struck late to open up a 3-1 advantage over Luzern in the first leg of their Europa Conference League qualifier at Easter Road.
The Premiership side had taken the lead in the third qualifying round tie with a Joe Newell goal before Luzern levelled but Hibs pressed on to score twice through Dylan Vente and Jordan Obita and make themselves favourites to progress to play Aston Villa in the play-off.
A 3-2 home defeat to St Mirren in their opening league game on Sunday had been a setback after a 6-1 win over Andorran side Inter last week and Lee Johnson was looking for a positive performance to fire up the fans. He named an attacking line-up that included a debut for striker Vente.
A competitive first half ended goalless but the second half was action-packed. Moments after the restart Joe Newell put Hibs in front, firing a powerful shot into the top corner of the net after a lay-off from Vente.
The lead didn’t last long. Luzern won a corner on the left, swung in a high ball and defender Ismail Beka was unchallenged as he thumped a header past David Marshall.
An increasingly bad-tempered game saw a flurry of yellow cards for fiery challenges, and amongst the mayhem, Hibs carved out a second goal.
Newell carried the ball deep into the Luzern half, evading several players before feeding Lewis Stevenson. The veteran full-back playing in a cross that Adam Le Fondre flicked into the centre and Vente was perfectly placed to nod in a downward header for a valuable debut goal.
As full-time neared, many Hibs fans would have been contemplating the fine balance of the tie ahead of the trip to Switzerland for the return leg but late drama tipped the scales in favour of the Scottish side.
Obita was sharp to intercept a poor pass in the centre circle and raced towards goal. Ignoring the runner on his right, he went directly into the box and got away his shot, seeing it take a slight deflection before nestling in the opposite corner.
The forward and his teammates celebrated wildly, and know that avoiding heavy defeat next Thursday will see them line up a glamour play-off date against English Premier League side Aston Villa.