Premier League

Thiago: United move a non-starter

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Thu, 25 Jul 2013 20:33:00

Hibernian's European adventure came to an end in embarrassing style as they crashed out of the Europa League second qualifying round after suffering a 7-0 defeat to Malmo at Easter Road.

The task was always going to be a difficult one for Hibs, who trailed by two goals from Jiloan Hamad and Magnus Eriksson following last week's meeting in Sweden.

Eriksson added to his goal from the first leg when he opened the scoring after 20 minutes, before a Rowan Vine effort was ruled offside for the Leith outfit.

There was a further setback when James McPake limped out of the action before the onslaught by the Swedes continued.

Emil Forsberg doubled the lead on the night on 25 minutes and Markus Halsti effectively ended the tie as a contest four minutes later.

But there was no let up from the visitors and Miiko Albornoz also added his name to the scoresheet four minutes before the break.

Tokelo Rantie helped himself to a goal on the hour mark, before Hamad scored five minutes later and substitute Simon Kroon completed the rout for the rampant Swedes on 72 minutes.

The emphatic win ensured Malmo progressed to a meeting with Swansea, ending any hope of a 'Battle of Britain' clash in the next round.

Ahead of kick-off, there was a minute of applause to celebrate the life and career of Hibs great Lawrie Reilly, who died earlier in the week.

Once the match was under way, Hibs actually started quite brightly and enjoyed much of the early possession, spurred on by a vocal crowd.

They had the chance to pile on the pressure with a corner of their own but Jordan Forster bulleted a header past the post from Liam Craig's delivery.

Then came a hint of what was to come in the shape of Eriksson's opener, as he pounced on Rantie's cross and rifled a low effort past the grasp of Ben Williams.

The goal appeared to spark the tie into life and Vine had the ball in the net for Hibs, with the offside flag already raised, before Rantie was denied at the other end.

The home side made their first change after 23 minutes when McPake was forced out of the action, making way for Fraser Mullen to make his debut.

It was one way traffic from then on, with Malmo grabbing the match firmly by the scruff of the neck.

Eriksson saw a shot smack off the post as he searched for a second, but it was Forsberg who netted for Malmo after exchanging a lovely one-two with Simon Thern.

Williams was left plucking the ball out of the net again when Halsti coolly dispatched a low shot from just inside the 18-yard box to ensure there would be no way back for their opponents.

There was to be no respite for Hibs in the first half and Albornoz was allowed to race unchallenged towards goal before sending a shot in off the post with half-time looming.

The second half was all about damage limitation for the Scots but there was further humiliation to come.

Rantie was quick to react after Williams parried a Hamad shot to pounce on the rebound and lash high into the net from close range after 60 minutes.

Five minutes later, Hamad drilled a low free-kick past the dejected Hibs goalkeeper from the corner of the 18-yard box.

By the end, Malmo were scoring for fun and Rantie demonstrated some decent play before cutting back for Kroon to stroke home on what was a night to forget for Hibs.

The 25-year-old has been in Norwich all day discussing personal terms and is poised to sign a four-year contract.

Norwich have been in the hunt for Hooper for some time, with manager Chris Hughton seeing several bids rejected in the January transfer window.

Hooper looked set for a move to Championship side QPR, with the Hoops understood to have agreed a fee in the region of £5.5m for the 25-year-old on Wednesday.

Hull City also missed out with their approach in June, and Queens Park Rangers agreed a fee of £5.5m with Celtic earlier this week, before the Canaries rekindled their interest in the player.

Asked about the former Scunthorpe striker in the wake of a 1-0 defeat by Portland Timbers, Hughton said: "We are still working very hard.

"It is very difficult for me with the eight-hour time difference, but even with the conversations I am having with the chief scout it is trying to find the right times. Nothing imminent, but we are still working."

The 23-year-old moved to European champions Bayern from Barcelona earlier this month, reuniting him with former Barca boss Pep Guardiola - the man who handed him his professional debut in 2009.

A lack of first-team appearances last year activated a clause in the player's contract which meant he could leave Barca for a reduced price, but it seems that was not enough to tempt United.

Thiago's father and agent Mazinho said on Wednesday that his son had been "very close" to joining United, but the Spain Under-21 international appeared to contradict that claim in an interview with RAC1.

"The truth is that in no moment did United come to us and talk to us. It came from the press, it was always a lie," he said.

Reflecting on his decision to leave Barcelona, he said: "It's unfair to say I wasn't patient. The club knew my situation. I waited for them, especially before the European Championships, but they never contacted me. I didn't feel valued.

"I wanted to compete. The club knew that I wanted to leave and they didn't do much to change that.

"Everyone looks out for their interests, I wanted to feel valued and I wanted to compete so I decided to leave the club and join Bayern.

"I was waiting and waiting all summer, there was a point when I had to decide.

"All a footballer wants is to play football and I wanted to play, they [Barcelona] didn't do much for me to stay, so here I am."

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