Another Euros for the Magyars after a thrilling play-off climax
Trailing 1-0 to Iceland in the play-off final, Hungary struck twice either side of the 90-minute mark to reach their second consecutive Euros – after previously going 30 years without qualifying for a major tournament.
- Despite beating World Cup finalists Croatia in qualifying, Hungary finished fourth in a group of five, yet made the play-offs via the Nations League. As co-hosts, they will play two of their group stage matches at the Puskas Arena.
- Marco Rossi, ex-Honved coach, uses the same 3-5-2 formation that helped win him the Hungarian title in 2017. Under quarantine for the play-off with Iceland, he passed instructions to his assistant, Cosimo Inguscio, from home.
- The scorer of the dramatic winning goal, Dominik Szoboszlai, made his debut in the first qualifier against Slovakia, replacing Laszlo Kleinheisler, whose equally superb strike set up Hungary’s qualification for Euro 2016.
The Italian coaching team instructs disciplined defensive midfielder Adam Nagy to control play in front of the defence, rarely venturing into the final third, allowing Dominik Szoboszlai to step into the limelight, while Filip Holender breaks on the left.
Now at Bristol City, defensive midfielder Nagy was snapped up by Bologna after Euro 2016.
Respected Rossi took Honved to their first league title in 24 years in 2017. National team coach since 2018.
The clock at Budapest’s empty Puskas Arena was ticking towards extra-time when attacking midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, just turned 20, collected the ball in his own half. Hungary had trailed a steely Iceland all game in this Euro play-off, gaining a last-gasp equaliser through Loic Nego but using all their substitutes. Szoboszlai cut in from the left, as blue shirts scattered invitingly. Ignoring runs left and right, the Red Bull Salzburg star then cracked in a shot from 25 yards that clacked the inside of the post into the far corner of the net. Mayhem.
The Austrian Bundesliga Player of the Season had settled the game in dramatic fashion and sent Hungary to the Euros, two group matches to be staged at this same stadium built to co-host the tournament.
Joining his father’s team of Videoton at six years old, Szoboszlai moved from MTK to Red Bull nursery team Liefering in 2016. Now as essential to the national side as the Austrian league champions, Szoboszlai is looking at a big-league transfer – and playing before a home crowd this summer.
Article by Peterjon Cresswell
This article first appeared in the January Edition of World Soccer. You can purchase old issues of the magazine by clicking here.