Improved Hungary slip to single-goal loss against Scotland
A much-improved performance from Hungary compared to their defeat to Kazakhstan last Friday was not rewarded as a second-half Matt Phillip goal proved enough to give visitors Scotland a 1-0 victory over Georges Leekens' team in the Groupama Aréna on Tuesday evening.
Hungary head coach Leekens made five changes to the side which lost 3-2 at home to Kazakhstan last Friday, Gergő Lovrencsics, Attila Pintér, Roland Varga, Richárd Guzmics and Szilveszter Hangya coming in for Endre Botka, Roland Ugrai, Barnabás Bese, Nemanja Nikolic and Ákos Elek.
This first meeting between the two teams for 14 years was a very even affair in the first half, Scotland perhaps dominating possession to a small extent but Hungary having more than their fair share of chances, albeit neither team created many clear goalscoring opportunities. The best chance of the half fell to the visitors in the 39th minute when Hungary central midfielder László Kleinheisler bundled over Ryan Fraser in the right corner of the hosts' penalty area, but Scotland captain Charlie Mulgrew saw his penalty saved by goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi plunging to his left. James Forrest also had a sight of goal but couldn't generate enough power on his first-time, left-footed shot from a left-wing Andrew Robertson cross to trouble Gulácsi at all.
From Hungary's point of view, the first half was much better than the the first period against Kazakhstan, even if in attack there weren't many chances carved out. A Balázs Dzudzsák free-kick from the left channel was struck with trademark left-foot curl on it and was on its way into the top-right corner until Alan McGregor reached across and did well to palm the ball over the bar, while in added time a header from a Dzsudzsák corner by centre-back Richárd Guzmics had to be cleared off the line by Robertson standing next to the right post.
The game was therefore goalless at half-time but events early in the second half changed all that. Ádám Szalai claimed a penalty when he crashed to the floor in the penalty area in the 46th minute but Austrian referee Harald Lechner didn't agree and two minutes later it was Scotland who found a breakthrough, Ryan Fraser swinging across a dangerous low cross from the right wing which evaded the Hungary defenders but fell perfectly for striker Matt Phillips to sweep the ball into the bottom-right corner of the net with his right foot from 13 metres.
That was almost Scotland's first chance from open play and it was perhaps their last one too, Gulácsi under-employed for the rest of the game and well-shielded by Otigba and Guzmics as Hungary instead pressed forward in search of an equaliser. Chances came too, Szalai capitalising on a mistake in the Scotland defence to find himself clear on goal just outside the penalty area, only for visiting goalkeeper McGregor to block his shot and for the rebound to be recycled to the right wing where Lovrencsics crossed it and Szalai dragged a flick with his heel agonisingly wide of the far left upright. Roland Varga also stung McGregor's palms with a howitzer from a central position 25 metres from goal but overall an equaliser wasn't to be, despite the best efforts of all the players who drove forward at every opportunity in the final stages.
Hungary 0-1 Scotland (HT: 0-0)
Hungary: Gulácsi – Fiola, Otigba, Guzmics – Lovrencsics G., Kleinheisler (Pátkai, 67.), Pintér Á. (Elek Á., 46.), Hangya (Szabó J., 46.) – Varga R. (Nikolic N., 83.), Szalai (Böde, 77.), Dzsudzsák (Németh K., 59.).
Scotland: A. McGregor – Hendry, Mulgrew, S. McKenna – R. Fraser (Paterson, 82.), McGinn, C. McGregor (Cummings, 92.), A. Robertson (B. Douglas, 67.) – S. Armstrong (McLean, 70.), M. Phillips (McBurnie, 84.), Forrest (Christie, 77.).
Goalscorer: M. Phillips (48.).