England’s 2022/23 UEFA Nations League campaign got off to a nightmare start as Hungary handed the Three Lions’ with their first defeat in 90 minutes since November 2020 on Saturday.
The occasion was marred by audible booing when the England players and officials took the knee before kick off. After this the Three Lions never got going with Dominik Szoboszlai’s second-half spot kick earning Hungary a 1-0 victory.
The game began at a surprisingly high tempo in sunny Budapest, with Jarrod Bowen having two early chances and Harry Kane also bending an effort wide of the post.
Hungary soon stamped their authority on proceedings though, with Conor Coady forced to scramble Szoboszlai’s shot off the line in the 11th minute.
After this entertaining start things simmered down. Zsolt Nagy threatened to spark proceedings back to life on the half-hour mark but his curling effort from the edge of the box was batted away by Jordan Pickford.
A few minutes later Pickford was almost embarrassed by Adam Szalai. However, thankfully for the Everton stopper, Szalai’s lob from the halfway line went narrowly past the post.
Debutant James Justin was taken off with an injury at the break and his replacement, Bukayo Saka, nearly made an instant impact. Bursting down the left-hand side, the Arsenal man made it all the way into the area before seeing his shot saved by Peter Gulacsi.
Just after the hour, Hungary took the lead. Reece James miscontrolled a long ball and collided with Nagy, a coming-together that referee Artur Dias deemed worthy of a yellow card and penalty. Szoboszlai stepped up for the hosts and made no mistake, slotting the ball into the bottom-left corner.
England nearly responded immediately after going 1-0 down with Harry Maguire spotting Bowen’s run in behind, but the forward could only aim a mis-hit volley straight into Gulcasi’s grasp.
14 minutes from time Coady went even closer, glancing a free kick agonisingly wide of the far post. Hungary then spurned the opportunity to put the result beyond all doubt with Pickford flying across his goal to prevent Laszlo Kleinheisler from finishing an incisive counter attack.
Before full time Kane was presented with two half-chances, neither of which the England skipper was able to take as Gareth Southgate’s side limped to a disappointing loss. It was the Three Lions first defeat against Hungary in 60 years.
Here are your player ratings from the Puskas Arena…
Jordan Pickford (GK) – 7/10 – Got a vital touch that allowed Coady to clear off the line in the first half. Made a couple of decent second-half stops to keep his side in it.
Kyle Walker (CB) – 6/10 – Completed several important interventions, using his recovery pace well. Taken off after the break with the upcoming games in mind.
Conor Coady (CB) – 6/10 – Stayed alert to make a vital goal-line clearance early on. Distributed well from the back.
Harry Maguire (CB) – 6/10 – Nothing too worrying defensive and his long passing was good at times.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RWB) – 5/10 – Enjoyed space down the right early on and found his teammates with some crosses. Still yet to really find his role in the England setup.
Jude Bellingham (CM) – 5/10 – Playing in a double pivot did not allow him to join the attack as much as he wanted and when he did get on the ball he was disappointing. Did well defensively, completing five tackles.
Declan Rice (CM) – 6/10 – Neat and tidy. Also broke up the play pretty well for the most part.
James Justin (LWB) – 4/10 – A quiet start to his senior England career. Failed to make much of an impact and was taken off at half time due to injury.
Jarrod Bowen (RW) – 5/10 – Did not show any fear on his Three Lions debut but execution was lacking in key moments.
Harry Kane (ST) – 4/10 – Service was pretty poor. Perhaps could have alternated his movement more in the first half. Fluffed a good chance late on.
Mason Mount (LW) – 4/10 – Not his day. Gave the ball away more than he would have liked and creativity was at a premium.
SUB: Bukayo Saka (LWB) – 5/10 – Almost scored with his first foray forward. Faded badly thereafter.
SUB: Reece James (RWB) – 3/10 – Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. It was perhaps a bit soft, but conceding a penalty with your first involvement is never a good look.
SUB: Jack Grealish (LW) – 6/10
SUB: John Stones (CB) – 6/10
SUB: Kalvin Phillips (CM) – N/A