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England humiliated Hungary in the worst home defeat in 94 years League of Nations


What a mess. Gareth Southgate knew he needed a victory to restore calm after a deeply unconvincing start to this League of Nations the campaign that brought two points from the first three matches and one goal; no from the open game.

What about England the manager received a new and alarming minimum – the heaviest defeat in his nearly six-year stay in England, the nation’s worst defeat since 1928 and a revolt among the home crowd here in Malinho.

Fans began to walk to the exit when Roland Salai scored his second goal of the evening to put Hungary The score was 2-0, the sounds were buzzing, and it was at this point that the Southgate team fell apart.

When Zsolt Nagy took home third place in Hungary, it was surreal: Euro 2020 finalists were humiliated. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” Southgate fans shouted, more of them leaving, shouting swear words.

John Stones, who survived a horrible evening, would have received a tough second yellow card; even more whistles for Harry Maguire when he came on as a substitute, and the final disgrace of Hungary’s fourth, England’s defense in rags, a substitute, Daniel Gazdag, ran to the finish line.

“You will be fired in the morning,” said home fans. Southgate saw nothing right from start to finish, the closest England was in the 77th minute when Harry Kane hit his head on the crossbar. There was no rescue for the manager and each player – just worry about two more matches before the World Cup, which starts in Qatar on November 21.

It was England’s fourth meeting of the season with Hungary, the previous one last Saturday, a game that Hungarian midfielder Adam Nagy called a “defeat in Budapest”. He judged this from England’s point of view, the Southgate team was equal in a 1-0 defeat.

Southgate wanted more energy here to remember the Malinho crowd, especially after Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Italy was watched by just 2,000 schoolchildren under the terms of the football association’s ban on the stadium. But calm and a cut were also needed.

It all started with the usual anger: home fans interrupted the Hungarian national anthem by chanting, telling them they were “racist bastards”. And England would have been stunned if Hungary had come out ahead after a free-kick that was terribly defended.

First Adam Lang jumped in with John Stones to taunt him and throw the ball into England’s penalty area, and then Harry Kane made a mistake in trying to clear, mistaken to open up an opportunity for Salai. He was all alone, and at that moment England could fear the worst. Salai’s touch was true; the finish flew past the exposed Aaron Rumsdale.

The second goal was scored by Hungarian Roland Salaj. Photo: Paul Childs / Action Images / Reuters

England could have started when Rhys James, replacing the left-back, jumped on Kane to cross deep. He deviated slightly, so Jarrod Bowen seemed to be wrong with his long-distance pole vault. Bowen headed back, not to the gate, and Nagy blocked.

The nerves in the stands were palpable, along with a sense of anticipation, because Hungary – so fast and well organized – is a team that is hard to break. When the Stones lingered for 23 minutes, the crowd howled. Their patience was low. England were on the eggshell, knowing what would happen if they lost the pass. The stones, in particular, felt warm. Adam Shalay reveled in a physical duel with him or, however, with someone else who was next to him.

27 minutes into the game, James would have scored the tying goal after 27 minutes, if only his free kick had been a few inches to the other side of the post. James reacted on his head and this led to a quick break, Bowen led him and Kane to his left. Bowen, however, did not release him when he had to.

England was enlightened during the break. This is the rule. The only other moment that noticed them was the moment when Willy Orbán hung his head on Bukayo Saka’s own goal and repulsed the save of Denes Dibush.

It was a night for Bowen to forget, and he was fascinated by the break, Southgate turned to Rahim Sterling. The manager could replace several others. He started on a 4-3-3 system, and England brought no pace or gait. It was 3-5-2 after the restart of the second half, Sterling and Kane; Connor Gallagher and Jude Bellingham are eighth, although the former was soon replaced by Mason Mount.

Gallagher was unconvincing on the sword, but it was a charge that was easy to catch up with many of his teammates, including Phillips and Bellingham. When England broke in the 50th minute, Bellingham overtook the last pass to Kane. He didn’t last too long, Phil Foden came out in his place.

Where did the inspiration come from? Hungary was very happy to keep in shape, keep white shirts in front of them. They did not believe that England could harm them. They were right.


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