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Tonight at Easter Road, Hibs take on Malmo FF for the right to progress to the first qualifying round of the Europa League. The winners of the tie face English Premiership side Swansea City.

Today the Edinburgh Reporter looks back 43 years to the last time the Swedish side visited the capital.

The sixties were a golden age for Scottish football clubs in Europe.

In season 1960/61 Hibernian reached the semi-final stages of the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, having disposed of Barcelona, and would have progressed to the final had the ‘away goals’ rule been in effect after drawing 3-3 in Rome. In addition, Rangers became the first British side to reach a European final, losing the European Cup Winner’s Cup 4-1 on aggregate to Italian side Fiorentina.

The following season, the great Gordon Smith helped Dundee win the league title and they progressed to the European Champion’s Cup semi-final where they lost 5-2 on aggregate to Milan. Dundee’s manager was Bob Shankly who would later take over at Easter Road.

In Season 1966/7  Kilmarnock reached the semi-final of the Inter Cities Fairs Cup where they were eliminated by Leeds United 4-2 on aggregate, Rangers reached the final of the European Cup Winners Cup where they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich and Celtic, under former Hibernian manager Jock Stein became the first British club side to win the European Champion’s Cup, beating Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon.

Throughout the decade, Hibernian fans had witnessed many glorious nights under the Easter Road floodlights, and European campaigns were almost taken for granted.

Top European sides such as Barcelona and Napoli were eliminated whilst Roma, Hamburg and Leeds United were unable to win in the capital.

imagesCA5SCX4CBy the end of the decade, Hibernian had sold several of their outstanding players such as Colin Stein, Peter Marinello and Peter Cormack for large sums, but they were still able to field a formidable starting XI, containing established professionals such as Gordon Marshall, Pat Stanton, Jim Black, Jim Blair and Joe McBride alongside promising youngsters such as Erich Schaedler, Alex Cropley and Arthur Duncan.

When the draw was announced for the 1970/71 Fairs Cup, Hibernian were paired with Swedish club Malmo. At that time, Swedish club football was not of the standard it is now, although the national team had been beaten by Brazil in the final of the 1958 World Cup, and Willie McFarlane’s men were installed as firm favourites to progress.

On Wednesday 16 September 1970, Malmo arrived at Easter Road with the intention of keeping the tie alive for the second leg, and Hibernian had trouble breaking their stubborn defence down in the first half. The forwards initially looked anxious and the defenders appeared nervous as the blue shirted Swedes looked dangerous on the break.

After 30 minutes however, Hibs took the lead when a Jim Black strike rebounded off Joe McBride in the crowded penalty box and the ball fell to Jim Blair who swept the ball into the net past the helpless Hult in Malmo’s goal.

Two minutes later Hibs doubled their advantage when Arthur Duncan’s shot deflected off Malmo defender Jacobsson into the path of prolific centre forward Joe McBride who made no mistake form close range.

That goal eased the nerves of the 11.165 crowd who always demanded and expected great things from the team playing down the slope in the second half. The fans were not disappointed and within a minute of the restart Hibernian were denied a clear-cut penalty when McBride was impeded in the box, but the referee waved play on, to the fury of the Hibernian supporters.

Alex Cropley then went close with a fine effort before Duncan knocked one just wide, but the crowd knew that it was only a matter of time before Hibs added to their lead and sure enough, three goals in a pulsating 13 minutes put the result of the tie beyond doubt.

Hibs’ third goal was a record breaking effort from Joe McBride who became the club’s all-time top scorer in Europe when he crashed a magnificent header past Hult from an inch perfect Duncan cross in the 57th minute.

Nine minutes later, McBride completed his hat-trick in style, wheeling on the edge of the box before sending a thunderous shot into the net to make it 4-0.

On 70 minutes, the roles were reversed and this time Duncan got on the end of a McBride cross to head the ball past the keeper, and the former Partick Thistle winger grabbed his second and Hibernian’s sixth with 15 minutes remaining when he hammered a right foot shot into the corner of the net, to send the fans home happy.

The Hibernian team that historic night was Gordon Marshall, Chris Shevlane, Erich Schaedler, Pat Stanton, Jim Black, Willie McEwan, Joe McBride, Alex Cropley, Arthur Duncan, Jim Blair and Johnny Hamilton. The subs were John Brownlie, Thompson Allan, Johnny Graham, Jimmy O’Rourke and Mervyn Jones.

Elsewhere that night, Rangers lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich in Germany, thanks to a Franz Bechanbaur goal, whilst Eddie Turnbull’s Aberdeen beat Honved 3-1 with a goal from Joe Harper, and Celtic beat Finnish side Kokkola 9-0.

The return leg was a formality and Hibernian ran out 3-2 winners in Sweden, with goals from Bobby Duncan, Pat Stanton and Willie McEwan, then, in the next round beat Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes 3-2 on aggregate after a 2-0 win at Easter Road.

The European campaign ended with a 3-0 aggregate defeat to Bill Shankly’s Liverpool.