Hungary Under 17s miss out on Euro qualification
A Kristóf Vida own goal early in the second half proved the difference between Hungary Under 17s and their Israel counterparts at the New Nándor Hidegkuti stadium, a loss which ensured Hungary are out of the 2018 UEFA Under-17 European Championship at the elite-round stage.
A last-gasp equaliser in their opening group match, a 1-1 draw against Slovenia and a 2-0 victory against Romania had meant Zoltán Szélesi's charges needed only a draw to progress to the tournament finals in England this summer, whereas Israel knew only a win would do to pip the hosts to the second qualification spot, Slovenia already having a good enough record to secure a top-two place.
A tight first half-hour saw both teams apply pressure without actually opening up the opposing defence. In the
29th minute, Gergő Irimiás did snatch a sight of goal in the 29th minute though when cut across the apex of the pitch and fired a right-foot shot just wide of Israel goalkeeper Shareef Keouf's left post.
Five minutes later, Liel Abada responded in kind with a long-range effort which had the home team's keeper Balázs Ásványi back-pedalling to ensure the ball only flew over the crossbar. Only three minutes passed before the visitors threatened again, creating the clearest chance of the half when Hanan Hen Biton's right-wing cross found striker Ibrahim Jauabra, but he got his body position wrong and only succeeded in heading harmlessly over.
It was Hungary with the final threat of the first period though, Péter Beke turning well and unleashing a dangerous,
dipping shot which was impressively trapped dead by the hands by a sprawling Keouf to his right just before the
Israel, well-aware of their need to score, were immediately on the front foot in the second half, Rony Laufer
wastefully volleying their first opportunity wide of the near left post when connecting with Biton's outswinging
cross from the right. The visitors didn't have long to wait until the crucial goal came though, Jauabra's left-wing cross miscued into his own goal by the right foot of left-back Vida in the 43rd minute with an Israel attacker lurking behind him ready to pounce.
Still Israel poured forward, half-time substitute Osher Davida drilling the ball low from 20 metres towards the bottom-right corner of the net five minutes later, only for Ásványi to plunge low to his left to tip the ball around the post for a corner.
Israel captain Ofek Ovadia then rattled the crossbar in the 66th minute with a 15-metre drive with his left foot and substitute Osher Davida's poke from ten metres out was well blocked by the advancing Ásványi as Hungary struggled to stay in the game.
While the hosts only needed a single goal though there was always hope and the opportunity to restore parity came in added time when a deep cross to the far right of the Israel penalty area landed perfectly for substitute Bálint Szabó to volley on goal. His effort broke through the hands of Keouf and was bouncing towards the net when Laufer arrived from nowhere to launch the ball clear from the goalline.
With that clearance went Hungary's hopes of a second straight appearance in the UEFA Under-17 European Championship finals, the lack of a single goal showing just how fine the margins are between qualification and failure for international football tournaments at any level.