ENGLAND 1, HUNGARY 1
On a historic night for Manchester City – they had a record five players in England’s starting line-up – Gareth Southgate’s side failed to deliver as they were held at home by Hungary in their World Cup qualifier.
Kyle Walker, John Stones, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling entered City’s record books, though it was far from the perfect night for them and below-par England.
The draw was a surprise bearing in mind England triumphed 4-0 at the Puskas Arena in September and leaves them with still some work to do to qualify for Qatar.
And it could conceivably have been worse but for centre half Stones who scored England’s equaliser after Hungary were gifted a penalty as Roland Sallai gave them the lead.
England had gone into the game unable to seal their passage to the finals as they needed two wins from their final three games to make certain of topping Group I with Hungary viewed as a home banker as they had been unbeaten against them in 14 previous meetings with their last loss in 1962.
Indeed, this was Hungary’s first point against Hungary at Wembley since the magical Magyars’ famous 6-3 win in 1953 which was described as the match of the century.
But the draw means they possibly cannot afford another slip in their last two qualifiers at home to Albania and away to San Marino in November.Embed from Getty Images
Southgate said: “It was a disappointing performance. Full credit to Hungary, they caused us a tactical problem and we were not fluid.
“We did not play at the level we need to play, simple as that. Difficult to pinpoint and we will look at the balance of the team. We made simple mistakes with the ball.
“We have to go away and reflect and should not judge things on one game and that experiment. From the start, we were not sharp with our play, gave the ball away, were over-running things and for the first time in a long time we have to hold our hands up today.
“I don’t think we should look at individuals, collectively we did not play at the level we need to.”
Declan Rice summed up England’s frustration saying: “You can say it is poor because we drew the game, but we dominated. Silly penalty to give away but we got back into the game and could not get that killer touch.
“You have to give credit to the opposition sometimes, Hungary were much better than when we played them away. I still think we did enough to win the game.”
On the penalty conceded, Rice added: “When you put your foot up that high it could be, but the way he (Loic Nego) went down was a bit pathetic.”
It was all change as Stones and Foden were the only two players who also started against Andorra.
All the usuals were back, including captain Harry Kane, but England were still missing the injured Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips.
Hungary had two former Liverpool goalkeepers in their squad, Peter Gulacsi and Adam Bogdan.
There was one minute’s applause before kick-off, a tribute to Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt, two members of the 1966 World Cup winning team and squad, who had died since England’s last appearance at Wembley.
In the opening minutes there were reports of trouble involving the 1,000 Hungary fans with police and stewards driven back and police understood to have used batons to restore order.
The Metropolitan Police later confirmed the trouble flared as they were making an arrest for a racially aggravated public order offence against a steward.
This following the racist abuse directed at England players during the recent World Cup qualifier in Budapest which has resulted in Hungary being forced to play behind closed doors at the Puskas Arena.
England had the first chance in the ninth minute when Grealish and Luke Shaw carved open the Hungary defence down the left but, with Kane sliding in, a visiting defender managed to get to the ball first to put it behind for a corner.
It was a lukewarm start from England and worse was to follow when they fell behind after conceding a 22nd minute penalty for Shaw’s high boot which struck Loic Nego’s forehead for which the left back was booked.
VAR confirmed the penalty and Roland Sallai, a striker who plays for Bundesliga club Freiburg, sent Jordan Pickford the wrong way from the spot to the delight of the visiting fans, who threw a flare on to the pitch, and Hungarian media.
Falling behind jolted England into action and they were level in the 37th minute through their first goal attempt of the game.
It was a goal made in Manchester as Foden’s free kick from the right somehow found its way through a crowded goalmouth, helped by a Rice touch, to Stones at the far post as he scored with a left-foot shot from inside the six-yard box, his fourth international goal.
And England would have snatched the lead in stoppage time but for a decent save from Gulacsi to keep out a close-range header from Raheem Sterling.
The break came at the wrong time for England as they lost the momentum they had built up towards the end of the opening period. They again disappointed with Hungary becoming more adventurous.
England’s first chance of the half in the 62nd minute saw Stones’ header flash narrowly wide from Foden’s corner.
The first England change just after the hour saw Grealish replaced by Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka to enormous cheers.
Sterling, put clear by Kane, had the chance to put England ahead but Gulacsi stood tall to make an important block.
A luck rebound fell invitingly to Kane, but he blazed over, a measure of his lack of recent form as his 15-game scoring run for England in competitive games came to an end.
It was Kane’s last action of the night as, with 14 minutes left, he and Sterling were replaced by Tammy Abraham and Jordan Henderson.
There was a scare for England six minutes from time when Saka was dispossessed by substitute Filip Holender who cut in from the left before blazing over.
It was a meek finish from England who, in the latter stages, only mustered one half chance which summed up their night.
Gulacsi punched a clearance which flew to Shaw whose shot into the ground was flying well wide until Abraham got to it but glanced his header off target.
And in stoppage time, substitute Abraham was substituted as he hobbled off after taking a knock to be replaced by Ollie Watkins.