For the first time since the EURO 2020 final, the England squad were back together but this time not for European Championships but qualifiers for next year’s World-Cup in Qatar. England travelled across to Hungary into a racist filled crowd, who booed the knee and constantly abused black England players. Simply disgusting, but the Three Lion’s and their performance shut them up.
Before kick-off nobody expected it to be an easy encounter, after all Hungary had only lost one of their past 14 games even holding both France and Germany to a draw in this summers EUROS. Nevertheless, Gareth Southgate’s side have started solidly in the group winning all their games before today and were clear favourites.
England actually started off poorly, yes they controlled possession but didn’t show any intent whatsoever and players such as Mason Mount were usually slow on the ball in the opening minutes.
Neither team proved any threat and Hungary didn’t even have a shot until the 39th minute when Dominik Szoboszlai struck over from a free-kick that was poorly give away by Declan Rice.
The stat that just empathizes how lacklustre and quiet the first-half was is this:
The second half was the complete opposite, Jekyll and Hyde, night and day. Whatever was said at half-time by Southgate and his coaching staff definitely worked.
Just five minutes after the restart, an inch perfect ball by Kyle Walker split the Hungarian defence apart and simultaneously set up Kane. The Spurs striker glared down on goal, you’d have bet your house on him scoring but he never, straight at the keeper…
Then five minutes later came England’s first goal, Rice intercepted a pass out from Hungary and layed it Jack Grealish who swiftly played in Chelsea’s Mason Mount, Mount finds Sterling who finishes with confidence. He then proceeds to be booed and cups thrown at him by home supporters, absolutely vile people.
Now the floodgates had opened and England took full advantage, but the second goal similar to the first. Rice intercepted a pass out and played in Sterling, who somewhat unorthodoxly crosses across to Kane, he heads past Peter Gulasci and it’s 2-0.
Another opportunity came just minutes after, Grealish inventively slips in Kane but again he misses and hits it straight at the keeper…
But, shortly after, Harry Maguire added another. Obviously it was a set-piece. Luke Shaw to Harry Maguire – quite the typical combination for England now. This time a corner, unlike the free-kick in Rome against Ukraine.
Shockingly another ‘big chance’ came for Kane. Grealish drove at the scurrying defence, who backed off, he used Mount’s run as a disguise and played Kane. He once again missed, it’s crazy to think the skipper only finished on one goal. Not like him to be so wasteful.
Finally Grealish got the goal contribution he so deserved. After faking a couple of shots he teed off Rice, who smashed it into the net from outside the area. More poor goalkeeping that a good shot, but they all count.
6 minutes after, the final whistle went and England got what they came for a positive performance, but more importantly three points.
Player Ratings: Pickford (7) Walker (7) Maguire (8) Stones (6) Shaw (7) Rice (8) Phillips (7) Mount (6) Sterling (8) Kane (7) Grealish (8)
Substitutes: Lingard (N/A) Henderson (N/A) Saka (N/A)
It was certainly a game of two halves. The boring England narrative was very true, in the first half, but the second was different.
Hopefully the second half performance is replicated, again and again. Attacking football. That’s what the country and us fans want to see.
England host Andorra next, in what will see them return to Wembley for the first time since the final. It’s their easiest game of the group so the atmosphere will be tough to fire up, but a replication of tonight’s performance will help, most definitely.