Hungary give France fright in Euro 2020 draw in front of riotous capacity crowd in Budapest
France were forced to wait to secure qualification for the Euro 2020 knockout stages after being held by a resilient Hungary in a ferocious 1-1 draw in front of a capacity crowd at the Puskas Arena in Budapest.
Meeting in scorching sunshine in front of more than 60,000 fans, Hungary stunned the world champions by taking a shock lead through Attila Fiola when he burst clear to finish calmly beyond Hugo Lloris in first-half injury time.
France were rocked heading into the break but recovered their senses to equalize through Antoine Griezmann in the 66th minute following some route-one football from goalkeeper Lloris and clever hold-up play by Kylian Mbappe.
France pressed strongly in the closing stages but failed to get the breakthrough as a raucous crowd in Budapest celebrated as if their team had won.
The result puts Didier Deschamps men top of Group F on four points from two games heading into their final group match against Portugal at the same venue on Wednesday.
A dogged performance from Hungary earned them a first point of the competition following the disappointment of their opening game defeat to Portugal.
The Hungarians retain slim hopes of getting out of the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’ as they head to Munich to meet Germany in their closing group-stage game on Wednesday.
BUDAPEST CAULDRON DRIVES ON HUNGARY
After seeing off Germany in clinical fashion in their opening game, France were looking to pick up a first win against Hungary in five attempts in European championship matches.
The hosts meanwhile were looking to bounce back from their opening defeat to Portugal in which they held out for 84 minutes until conceding a trio of goals.
Amid wild scenes at the only venue to allow a capacity crowd at this summer’s tournament, the fired-up hosts looked like they were again set up to frustrate more heralded opponents.
It took until the 14th minute for France to show their danger when Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi was forced into a superb double-save, first stretching out a hand to deny Karim Benzema’s effort from long range and then recovering to block a follow-up effort from the lurking Antoine Griezmann.
The Barcelona man was flagged offside but it was still an impressive stop from Gulacsi.
There were worrying scenes not long after when Hungary skipper Adam Szalai was forced off after appearing to take a knock to the head.
The home talisman slowly made his way off the pitch in continued discomfort as Nemanja Nikolic was introduced and both teams took a drinks break to gain respite from the blazing heat.
Mbappe and Benzema then almost aligned for France’s first as the PSG man inventively flicked the ball into Benzema’s path from a Griezmann cross, but the Real Madrid forward steered his half-volley wide of the upright.
The chance went begging but it was the kind of link-up from their attacking trident that France were looking for. Mbappe then dragged a shot wide after weaving his way into the box.
Hungary found themselves penned back in their own half as France pinged the ball around to sporadic jeers from the capacity crowd, with the hosts’ ambition mostly limited to pinching the ball from misplaced French passes.
When they did enjoy a rare foray forward, Hungary found themselves getting in each other’s way as Fiola inadvertently blocked a shot from Roland Sallai when running across his path.
But the game would turn on its head in first-half injury time. Bursting forward after a one-two with Sallai, Fiola outpaced Benjamin Pavard and shrugged off the attentions of Raphael Varane before coolly slotting past Lloris.
It was Fiola’s second strike for Hungary and he celebrated by leaping over the barriers around the pitch and launching himself towards the crowd – terrifying a reporter in the process.
The reporter recovered admirably but France on the other hand were still reeling as they staggered into half-time having conceded a first goal in 527 minutes of football.
Into the second half and French substitute Ousmane Dembele rattled the post with a fierce drive from the edge of the box.
When France finally did make the breakthrough it was from some route-one football as Mbappe drifted between the Hungarian defence to collect a long-ball from Lloris, holding up the play until Griezmann had arrived.
Mbappe cut the ball across goal, where it was helped into Griezmann’s path by a touch from Willi Orban.
The Barcelona star gratefully tucked the ball home, breaking into a celebratory jig before marching back to the centre-spot to show France intended to press on for the winner.
7 – Antoine Griezmann’s equaliser for France was his seventh goal at the European Championships; only Cristiano Ronaldo (11) and Michel Platini (9) have scored more in the competition’s history. Leveller. #EURO2020 #HUN #FRA #HUNFRA pic.twitter.com/Izxysbrb18
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 19, 2021
Entering the closing stages, France didn’t have it all their own way as Lloris made a low stop from Sallai and the Puskas Arena continued to be a cauldron of noise.
Deschamps introduced Olivier Giroud from Benzema in the 76th minute in an effort to make the breakthrough that would book their spot in the last 16 with a game to spare, while Paul Pogba also made way for Corentin Tolisso.
Giroud could have put France in front but sent his shot straight at Gulacsi as Hungary continued to foil the visitors.
Griezmann’s late delivery into the box from a well-placed free-kick on the right flank was also repelled as Hungary held on for a famous point and kept their unlikely qualification hopes alive as they prepare to travel to Munich.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 19, 2021
Later on Saturday, attention in Group F turns to the meeting of two heavyweights as Germany meet Portugal at the Allianz Arena in Munich as the Germans look to pick up their first points of the tournament.