Hibernian boss Jack Ross saw his side lose 4-1 to Rijeka in Croatia to end their Europa Conference League hopes – and insisted the team hadn’t suffered “a doing”.
The Premiership side had travelled with optimism after a 1-1 draw in the first leg, and were still looking like could progress with the score at 1-1 in the second half of the decisive leg when defender Darren McGregor was sent off for a second booking.
The dismissal changed the course of the game and Rijecka scored three times to put the tie beyond doubt.
Ross admitted his disappointment but said that anyone just seeing the scoreline would have a false impression of the contest.
“There was a real strong belief we could progress,” he said. “The players have earned the right to believe with their performances over the past 18 months and we are sore because the scoreline looks like we got a doing.
“We didn’t get that tonight, it was just the manner in which the last part of the game unfolded for us.”
Ross , who revealed that centre-back Paul Hanlon had not travelled for the match because of concussion, said that replacement defender McGregor was feeling “sore” after his red card. But the manager believes the defensive collapse after the sending off highlighted the need for him to sign another central defender.
Despite the disappointment, Ross insisted there were some things he could be pleased about.
“When we reflect on the tie, there’s a couple of key aspects,” he said.
“One is not coming here with a lead, when you think of the opportunities we created at Easter Road.
“And then tonight I think we went toe to toe with a good team in their own stadium. The atmosphere was electric and we stood up to it in the main. We got through a tough period and got ourselves back into it and looked a threat in that period following Kyle’s goal, which was terrific.
“So there are positives from us in terms of the level of performance we produced in parts of the game but equally we can’t defend in the manner we did. Irrespective of whether we have 11 or ten men we have to be more robust in games.”