Hungary 1, England 0 (Nations League Group A3)
England lost their opening Nations League game in Hungary with a poor 1-0 penalty defeat at the Puskas Arena.Embed from Getty Images
A soft second half penalty, conceded by Reece James for a soft foul on Zsolt Nagy and converted by Magyars golden boy Dominik Szoboszlai, condemned England to their first defeat in Hungary for 60 years.
It was the first win for Hungary against England for 15 matches (excluding penalty kicks) – and England’s first defeat (excluding the penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final) since November 2020 when Belgium beat them in November 2020.
Gareth Southgate’s men were poor in front of a crowd of 50,000 comprising mainly children who were using a loophole to attend this game which was meant to be played without fans after England players were racially bused the last time they were in this stadium last September.
“We tried to refresh the team for Germany, and that’s now an even bigger game for us.
“We have a good team with some steps to go and we learned a lot about the players tonight.
“I have to keep the players on track for Tuesday.
Disappointingly the home fans booed the taking of the knee beforehand as both teams lined up in the summer heat, and Southgate was surprised but explained why England take the knee in solidarity against racism and homophobia, adding:
“We do it to try and educate people around the world, I have no idea why people would boo that gesture – perhaps young people are being influenced by older people.
“We’ve made our stand as a team.”
Southgate introduced two debutants in this game in West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen and Leicester City’s James Justin.
But England didn’t get off to a good start and it only got worse after a tired looking England side – without the option of Phil Foden after he tested positive for COVID19 – looked even worse in the second half.
Justin went off with injury at half time but Bowen was impressive and did go close with a couple of chances although England as a whole did look like a team in need of a holiday.
VAR was in operation though and they decided there was no clear and obvious error when Reece James, one of several second half changes, put his hands on Zsolt Nagy in the penalty area, and he went down to claim the spot kick.
Szoboszlai drilled his effort into the bottom left corner, beyond the reach of Jordan Pickford.
England reacted and became more direct but could not level the scores.
Conor Coady flicked a header wide in England’s best chance late on but he couldn’t steer his effort on target.
And Hungary could have doubled their lead after England overcommitted trying to get the equaliser but Andras Schafer blazed over after Pickford parried Laszlo Kleinheisler’s late shot.
Oldham-born Barnsley midfielder Callum Styles replaced Nagy as Hungary saw out the win to the delight of their young fans as England were left to lick their wounds and move on to Munich for their next Nations League game – against Germany.