Hungary battle to draw in Belarus
George Leekens' men conceded a 27th-minute opener but an immediate headed equaliser from Ferencváros winger Roland Varga and a determined second-half rearguard action salvaged a creditable draw away in Belarus on Wednesday evening.
Following the defeats to Kazakhstan and Scotland, head coach George Leekens not only changed part of his squad but also the starting formation, the previous 4-4-2 and 3-4-3 formations being replaced by a 4-3-3 system for this friendly match in Brest, Belarus.
Hungary started well but were unable to find the required magic to break down a compact home defence and instead it was the hosts who took a 26th-minute lead, a left-wing corner finding its way to Anton Saroka ten metres from goal and he stroked the ball into the far-left corner of Péter Gulácsi's net.
To their credit, Leekens' men went straight back on the attack and equalised immediately, a left-wing corner of their own being headed down and inside the left post by Ferencváros winger Roland Varga. This leveller buoyed the away team who maintained a small measure of dominance until the half-time break without being able to further breach the Belarussian backline.
Half-time saw the re-introduction of Krisztián Vadócz in a Hungary shirt for the first time in 2430 days since his last apparance against Finland in 2011, Ádám Nagy being the central midfielder to make way. The second period was perhaps controlled more by the hosts who were roared on by a partisan crowd and Hungary were indebted to RB Leipzig goalkeeper Gulácsi for two outstanding saves, firstly from Kiszlkaj's fierce, first-time volley from 13 metres which he somehow diverted over the crossbar in the 60th minute, and then from Saroka's swirling drive which he did extremely well to tip over after flinging himself to his left.
There were no real further chances of note for Hungary who will be happy to have weathered the storm against a dynamic Belarus side and who will be keeping their fingers crossed that the injury sustained by captain Balázs Dzsudzsák which necessitated his 67th-minute withdrawal will prove not to be too serious.
George Leekens, Hungary head coach: "I'm frustrated that we again conceded from a set-piece and can see that we need to work more on the defence. On the other hand, I'm happy that we recovered the deficit - didn't see our heads drop but rather I saw the team get on with things and immediately equalise. In summary, I'd say I'm not satisfied but it was important for us to get some kind of result, especially after falling behind. Our defence did well, especially Gulácsi. We need to analyse the mistakes but we also need to concentrate on the match against Australia which stands before us".
Belarus 1–1 Hungary (HT: 1–1)
Brest, 9000 spectators, ref.: Lapochkin (RUS)
Goalscorers: BLR: Saroka (26.), HUN: Varga R. (29.)
Yellow cards: Pátkai (88.), Varga J. (88.)
Hungary (surnames first): Gulácsi Péter - Lovrencsics Gergő, Vinícius Paulo, Kádár Tamás, Szabó János - Elek Ákos (Pátkai Máté, 70.), Nagy Ádám (Vadócz Krisztián, 46.) - Varga Roland, Kleinheisler László (Varga József, 78.), Dzsudzsák Balázs (Sallai Roland, 65.) - Szalai Ádám (Böde Dániel, 65.).