THERE is now every chance of two Scottish sides in the last 32 of the Women's Champions League following Hibernian's 2-1 win over Cardiff Met in Slovenia yesterday morning (sat). Goals from Amy Gallacher and Joelle Murray confirmed Hibs' superiority in the heat, but Emily Allen pulled one back for Cardiff two minutes from the end.

The result, added to the 3-0 qualifying group win over Georgian champions FC Nike three days earlier, means Hibs only have to avoid defeat against hosts ZNK Pomurje on Tuesday to join Glasgow City in the knock-out stages.

Although Hibs had to endure a gruelling trip from Edinburgh to Slovenia on Tuesday, arriving at their base almost twelve hours after departing, they had little trouble disposing of FC Nike the following afternoon. Yesterday's game against the Welsh Premier League title-holders was expected to be more difficult, but that's not how it materialised.

Grant Scott's side were down to ten for the last half hour after the scorer of the first goal, Gallacher, was shown a second yellow card for a foul. It was an ironic decision given that Hibs had been denied a penalty seconds earlier, but it made little difference to the pattern of the game and Murray got the second with a powerful header from Rachael Boyle's corner ten minutes later.

That proved decisive and also ensured that Cardiff's late goal was no more than an irritant. Hibs should have scored early in the game, but Siobhan Hunter missed from the penalty spot. The only negative aspect was that their superiority brought few clear-cut chances, while Jenna Fife had to make two very good saves in the Hibs goal.

The Edinburgh club's new signing from Rangers, Amy Muir, had an outstanding game. She was played at right back on her debut against Glasgow City last Sunday, but on the right of a midfield five against Cardiff caused all sorts of problems, winning corners and free kicks in dangerous areas.

“She was fantastic,” Hibs captain Murray confirmed. “I made a point of going over to her after the game and telling her that.

“The things she does are so simple, but so effective. Her work rate, her physicality and everything about her today was unbelievable. It was her first game in the Champions League – what a debut to remember.”

While acknowledging Hibs are now in a commanding position to win Group 3 and claim the only available place in the last 32, Murray says she doesn't accept her side already have one foot in the knock-out stages.

“I don't want the girls to be thinking that way,” she pointed out. “Obviously we're in a very good and positive position, but although we only need a draw we'll be going into the last game to win it.

“We want to finish the group with nine points and a good performance.”

THE news that Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell is to take charge of a review looking at the domestic game, including the feasibility of introducing some level of professional football, is to be welcomed.

Scottish Women's Football themselves organised a meeting of clubs to look at the structure of the top leagues yesterday (sat), but that is a tweak compared with the need for a strategic review of where the sport is heading.

A sensible plan to grow the game, and one which might attract new sponsors and heightened media interest, is now required. The SFA have the best part of £400,000 from World Cup qualifying to give it a kick start.

A clear timetable for delivering outcomes is expected by the end of the year.