ENGLAND 0, HUNGARY 4
England’s heaviest home defeat for 94 years was met with calls for the sacking of Gareth Southgate by disgruntled fans.
A wretched Nations League campaign plumbed new depths with an embarrassing home defeat to Hungary as supporters turned on manager Southgate for the first time in his six-year reign.
They called for the head of Southgate as memories of the glorious Euro 2020 campaign when England reached the final seems a distant memory, even though it was less than 12 months ago.
It was a wretched performance from England who are now without a win in four games, their worst run since 2014 under Roy Hodgson with this lowest ebb for Southgate since he took charge in 2016.
England’s defending was abject while at the opposite end of the field they have failed to find the net from open play in more than six hours.Embed from Getty Images
After conceding only eight goals in their previous 25 internationals, England leaked half that number in 90 minutes.
This was also the first time in their history they had lost by four or more goals at home without finding the net themselves.
It was only the second time Hungary had won on English soil, the Magical Magyars triumphing 6-3 in 1953, the year of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
Almost 70 years later in her platinum jubilee year, there was an even more decisive margin as this Hungarian side will surely go down in the annals of history in their country.
Southgate said: “We picked a young team with energy and when the game started to go against them it started to look that way which is my responsibility.
“At half-time we needed to go for the game and made changes with more of an attacking impetus. It left us more open when we were pushing, and it left us wide open. Across the four matches, that is my responsibility, I tried to balance looking at new players, resting players we could not keep flogging but in the end the teams have not been strong enough in the two Hungary games, the other two results were positive but tonight is a chastening experience.”
Southgate continued: “We have seen you have to be at full strength. It was an important experience for a number of the younger players, and we learnt a lot from the Italy and Germany games.
“Hungary are a good side and I think I have given them too much to do tonight. I understand the reaction to that in the stadium, this group of players have been unbelievable for their country, and it is important for people to stay with them. They will still be strong going forward.
“In the end, this is about winning matches with England but tonight was the sort of night my predecessors have experienced. I am not going to say it does not hurt but it is clear to me what we were trying to do across the four matches.
“The Nations League campaigns have put negativity and pressure onto us and you don’t normally have that as England manager. It is my job to protect the players, the results are my responsibility.
“People will rightly say, ‘what are you talking about?’ We needed to see some things. We have had some unbelievable nights with England over the last four or five years, but this is the other side and that is the reality of football.”
England captain Harry Kane said: “It was a disappointing night. In the first half we created enough chances to score but it has been the story of our Nations League, we have not quite had the cutting edge.
“The second half was not acceptable after going 2-0 down. It is not the time to panic, we have to the heads up and come back stronger in September.
“It is our first big defeat in a long time, the defence has been structure of our success. A night to forget but we have to take it on the chin and move forward, we have to prepare for a big World Cup and will learn a lot from this camp.
“Let’s not forget where we have come from, our first final in 60 years, semi-finals in the World Cup compared to where we have been in the last 50 years. I under the fans’ frustration, we will keep working to try and have a successful World Cup.”
Kane was also asked about the boos aimed at Southgate and his future, replying: “It’s a really disappointing question to be asked. Let’s not forget where we have come from.
“Gareth has been a key part of transforming this England team to one of the most successful sides we have had in the past 50 years.
“I know it’s disappointing for the fans. It has been a disappointing camp, every now and then football throws up a surprise, we have to look at the big picture.
“It’s the first low point I’ve had in five years, a really disappointing night. We expect to win these games, but it wasn’t our night. We need to stay calm and learn from it.
“We’ve had two fantastic tournaments in a row. It’s not the time to panic. It’s a loss we’re disappointed with but we need to stay calm, and we know we have stuff to work on.”
Southgate made nine changes to the side who drew 0-0 with Italy on Saturday, with only goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and Reece James keeping their places.
England lined up with a back four with Kyle Walker and James either side of Marc Guehi and John Stones – there had been speculation they may play with three central defenders.
Along with Walker, Guehi and Stones, there was a return to midfield for Kalvin Phillips and Jude Bellingham, while Conor Gallagher was given his first minutes of this international break. Jarrod Bowen, Kane and Bukayo Saka also returned.
Hungary made two changes following their 1-1 draw with Germany – goalkeeper Denes Dibusz and midfielder Andras Schafer were recalled. The Bury-born Barnsley midfielder Callum Styles also started.
That anthem was something – Wolverhampton certainly keen to make the most of hosting international football. They also weren’t afraid to voice their opinion during the Hungarian anthem.
Hungary had a three-game stadium closure – one suspended – for racist and homophobic behaviour by fans during Euro 2020, and the sentiment of the England fans’ chant was that the visiting supporters “know what they are”.
England made a bright start and carved out a decent early chance when Bowen’s goalbound header from James’ cross was blocked with the striker appealing for handball.
There was rude shock awaiting, though, when Hungary snatched a 16th minute lead.
England failed to clear a free kick as Stones was beaten in the air. The ball was headed back across the face of goal for Roland Sallai to half volley past goalkeeper Ramsdale who got a strong hand to the effort but was unable to keep it out.
And it might have got worse when Hungary whipped in a free kick from the left which eluded Ramsdale, but James saved the day heading off the line.
England were almost handed an equaliser when Hungary centre back Viktor Orban, trying to cut out a Saka cross, almost headed past goalkeeper Denes Dibusz who pulled off a fine reflex save. Moments later Bellingham headed narrowly wide as Southgate’s side sensed a way back into the game.
Rahem Sterling replaced Bowen for the restart as England were in desperate need for more ideas in the final third of the pitch.
England were brighter as Bellingham and James both whipped in low crosses, each time Kane just failing to get on the end of them.
There was a second change just short of the hour as Conor Gallagher was replaced by Mason Mount, soon followed by the introduction of Phil Foden for Bellingham.
England’s night of woe continued as they conceded a second goal with 20 minutes left.
Marc Guehi lost an aerial duel before Phillip was dispossessed by Adam Lang who threaded a pass to Sallai who fired low past Ramsdale. It was the second goal of the game for the winger who plays for Freiburg in the Bundesliga.
England had chances to get a foothold back in the game as Foden fired agonisingly wide and Kane’s looping header struck the crossbar.
But in the last 10 minutes, England conceded two further goals and also had Stones sent off to round off a miserable night.
Zsolt Nagy made it 3-0 in the 80th minute as he drilled home a low shot from the edge of the box after a cross was poorly cleared.
That was followed by a mass exit from fans, chorus of boos and chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing”.
Stones was unlucky to be sent off after colliding with an opponent with referee Clement Louis Jean Turpin deeming it a reckless, maybe a flaying arm.
Manchester United’s Harry Maguire was brought on for Saka, a change which the fans disapproved as they chanted he was getting sacked in the morning.
Hungary made it a rout in the 89th minute when Nagy’s through ball released Daniel Gazdag who squeezed a shot past Ramsdale.
And by the final whistle, Molineux had almost emptied after England’s second home defeat in 30 internationals.