Added-time own goal robs Hungary of encouraging draw
Captain Tamás Kádár's 92nd-minute own goal dented an otherwise excellent personal performance and ensured Hungary lost 2-1 at home to FIFA 2018 World Cup participants Australia in the Groupama Aréna in Budapest on Saturday evening.
The hosts had played relatively well for most of the match and created several clear chances, especially in an encouraging first-half display, but it seemed as if Australian youngster Daniel Arzani's shot which crept past fellow substitute Dénes Dibusz in the Hungary goal might give the away team a narrow victory. Visiting captain Trent Sainsbury sent an 88th-minute header past his own keeper to restore parity though before Kádár's even later intervention.
Hungary head coach George Leekens had made three changes to the team that started Wednesday's 1-1 draw in Belarus, Krisztián Vádócz, József Varga and Roland Sallai replacing Ádám Nagy, Ákos Elek and Balázs Dzsudzsák in the midfield area, his team starting in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The first opportunity of the match fell to the visitors inside the opening minute when Mathew Leckie's header looped over the bar following a left-wing short-corner routine and Hungary's first chance came soon after when Roland Sallai, making his first national-team start on his eighth appearance, smartly took down a raking cross-field pass, tricked his way to the byline and stood up a cross which was only headed half-clear, the ball dropping for Gergő Lovrencsics to volley down into the turf and towards goal, only for a visiting defender to avert the danger.
Sallai and left-back János Szabó were showing signs of a good understanding down the left side and the two combined in the 11th minute to set Szabó free close the byline, but his driven cross evaded everyone. Leekens' team were certainly looking to play with purpose and intent, Vadócz's close-range volley from a tight angle blocked by the back of Joshua Risdon as the away team weathered the hosts' early storm. Australia haven't qualified the World Cup by accident though and they soon came back into the match, Leckie firing the ball low inside from the right-wing for Robbie Kruse arriving roughly in line with the near right post, but his shot from 13 metres was blazed wastefully over the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Sallai continued to impress and his spectacular 23rd-minute bicycle kick following an outswinging free-kick towards the left side of the Australia penalty area nearly turned into the perfect back-post cross, but an Australian defender was well-placed to reach the ball first and clear. A tigerish Lászsló Kleinheisler was another to feature prominently in the central exchanges, his waspish aggression in running 40 metres to regain possession after he'd been tackled in the 25th minute perfectly exemplifying his combative midfield talents.
Kleinheisler's partner in central midfield, Krisztián Vadócz, had been absent from the international scene for seven years before last Wednesday's draw in Brest, but he looked at home again immediately, dispossessing Mark Milligan and striding towards goal before slipping the ball inside for the arriving Ádám Szalai. Australian goalkeeper Matty Ryan made a wonderful block with his left leg though to deny the Hoffenheim striker from a central position 12 metres out, Szalai's follow-up then hacked clear from under the crossbar by a covering defender.
There was more positivity to come for the home fans in the 36th minute when Kleinheisler volleyed a headed clearance wickedly with his left foot 25 metres from goal but he was unlucky to see his dipping effort only bounce onto the crossbar and over the Australian net. Kruse and Aaron Moy both missed the target with long-range efforts as half-time drew near but in truth it would have been very harsh on the hosts if they hadn't at least come in level at half-time. Indeed, had Risdon not cleared Hungary captain Tamás Kádár's diving header from a right-wing Roland Varga corner off the line in stoppage time, Leekens' men would have led at the break.
Hungary made only one change at half-time, goalkeeper Dénes Dibusz replacing Péter Gulácsi between the posts, but he wasn't called upon in the opening minutes of the second period despite a measure of dominance for the Antipodeon nation. At the other end, Lovrencsics's right-wing cross set up a difficult stooping chance for Szalai
at the near post, his header finding the side-netting. That was the forward's last action of the game as Ferencváros favourite Dániel Böde stepped onto the turf he calls home at club level.
Lovrencics and Leckie both rued the inaccuracy of their drives from distances as stalemate endured but at least the home team showed every intention of chasing the opening goal, Kleinheisler making way for Honvéd striker Márton Eppel as Hungary switched to 4-4-2. It must be said there were opportunities to exploit for both sides, Australia substitute Jackson Irvine going close twice within a minute, his piledriver from Leckie's pullback stinging the palms of Dibusz before the Hull City attacker header the resultant corner over the bar.
The longer the match went on, the more it seemed as if it would take a moment of magic or a mistake to break the deadlock and the latter is exactly what happened, another Australian replacement Daniel Arzani's bouncing but seemingly innocuous right-footed shot from the left channel momentarily bamboozling Dibusz in goal and creeping
under the keeper's left glove into the far side of the net in the 74th minute. The Melbourne City forward, due to take his place in Russia as the youngest player at this summer's World Cup, had only been on the pitch for around a minute.
It didn't appear as if Hungary would be able to recover but the visitors contributed to the relinquishment of their lead in unfortunate fashion, captain Trent Sainsbury heading Attila Fiola's seemingly harmless right-wing cross past his own stranded goalkeeper to level the scores with just four minutes of normal time remaining. That wasn't the end of the late drama though, Irvine's acceleration down the left in added time allowing the pony-tailed attacker to send a wicked, low cross into the six-yard box which Kádár could only divert past Dibusz into his own net with arch-goalpoacher Tim Cahill lurking behind him.
That was the end of the goalmouth action as Hungary, perhaps undeservedly, suffered their third defeat in four friendly matches this year, although this first-half display against Australia featured some of the best football the team has played for a good while.
Hungary 1-2 Australia (HT: 0–0)
Goalscorers: HUN: Sainsbury (88., own goal), AUS: Arzani (74.), Kádár (92., own goal)
Yellow cards: HUN: Varga J. (44.), Fiola (78.), AUS: Leckie (22.), Jedinak (76.)
Hungary (surnames first): Gulácsi Péter (Dibusz Dénes, 46.) - Lovrencsics Gergő (Fiola Attila, 73.), Vinicius Paulo, Kádár Tamás, Szabó János - Vadócz Krisztián, Varga József - Varga Roland, Kleinheisler László (Eppel Márton, 66.), Sallai Roland (Varga Kevin, 84.) - Szalai Ádám (Böde Dániel, 62.)