Orbán and Szalai seal Hungary success
Goals from Willi Orbán - his first in his adopted national-team colours - and Ádám Szalai handed Hungary a comfortable 2-0 victory over Estonia in their Nations League group fixture in the Groupama Aréna on Thursday evening.
Orbán headed in Zsolt Kalmár's outswinging corner in the sixth minute and Szalai doubled the lead with a looping header midway through the second half to secure the points for the home side who had been forced to contend with coach Marco Rossi's one-match touchline ban.
It was a much-changed Hungary lineup from the one that drew 3-3 in Tallinn exactly a month ago, Dénes Dibusz deputising in goal for the ill Péter Gulácsi, the back-four comprising Mihály Korhut, Tamás Kádár, Willi Orbán and Botond Baráth behind a central midfield of Máté Patkai and Ádám Nagy and an attacking trio of Dominik Nagy, István Kovács and Zsolt Kalmár supporting lone forward and captain Ádám Szalai in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Initially, it seemed as if Estonia might capitalise upon the lack of familiarity in the Hungary starting eleven, Henrik Ojamaa's lefft-wing inswinger just eluding the head of striker Henri Anier in the 2nd minute and Madis Vihmann's powerful header from captain Konstantin Vassiljev's right-wing corner resulting in a superb reaction save by a razor-sharp Dibusz in the Hungarian goal.
Hungary, led by assistant coach Cosimo Inguscio in the absence of the suspended Marco Rossi, were up and running soon after though, Kalmár's excellent outswinging corner from the right headed into the right side of the Estonian goal by Orbán via the shoulder of visiting right-back Artur Pikk in the eighth minute. Four minutes later and Dominik Nagy nearly extended that early lead when he collected a poor clearance by Estonia goalkeeper Mihkel Aksalu and shot low towards an empty net, only for the scrambling goalkeeper to recover and dive to save at the last second. Almost immediately the hosts were on the attack again when Kalmár surged forward into the final third and unleashed a whipped drive which unfortunately flew straight at Aksali.
The contest passed the half-hour mark before the next clear chance on goal, Baráth's outswinging cross from the right met nicely on his instep by Dominik Nagy but his volley deflected off Szalai and wide of the right post. The other Nagy - Ádám - then fed Kalmár on the right in the 36th minute and he cracked a wicked, low drive from a tight angle which fizzed just wide of the far left post. Hungary's final chance of the first half came two minutes from its conclusion when Dominik Nagy turned neatly on the right of the penalty area and shot low, Aksali's smart block being cleared for a corner which was eventually half-volleyed towards goal by the Legia Warsaw midfielder again, only for Ilja Antonov to bravely throw his body in the way.
If the 7,700 fans in attendance were fearful or expectant of a change in the game's pattern, they need not have been because Hungary were straight back on the attack in the second half and were so close to a second goal in the 47th minute, another superb delivery from Kalmár, this time from a free-kick in the right channel 35 metres from goal, found an unmarked Orbán in a central position just outside the six-yard box, but his bullet header was somehow remarkably clawed away by Aksali.
Dominik Nagy's eventful match continued just after the hour when he was supplied with the ball by Kalmár's lofted pass as he entered the penalty area but after a decent chest-down, he blazed wildly over the crossbar. Hungary woldn't live to regret these missed chances though, the match effectively being over as a contest once a two-goal cushion was secured in the 68th minute, Ádám Nagy's diligent pressing yielding a looping rebound from an attempted clearance which landed nicely for Ádám Szalai to neatly head the ball over the stranded Aksali and into an empty net for his third goal in five matches.
A raft of substitutions followed as three Euro 2016 squad members, Dániel Böde, László Kleinheisler and Balázs Dzsudzsák, entered the fray, the latter for his first appearance during Rossi's tenure as head coach and it was he who, during an encouraging cameo, was presented with a chance to score Hungary's third goal, but his first-time strike when running onto the ball in the left channel ended up being slashed wide of the left post.
Nevertheless, it was a encouraging second home victory in the Nations League and Hungary will look to mark Rossi's return to the bench on Sunday with victory over Finland in their final group fixture. Should this happen and Greece drop all three points against Estonia, or team would finish in second spot in the group.
Hungary 2-0 Estonia (HT: 1-0)
Hungary (surnames first): Dibusz Dénes - Baráth Botond, Willi Orbán, Kádár Tamás, Korhut Mihály - Nagy Ádám, Pátkai Máté, Kalmár Zsolt (Kleinheisler László, 84.)- Nagy Dominik (Dzsudzsák Balázs, 65.), Szalai Ádám (Böde Dániel, 76.), Kovács István
Estonia: Aksalo - Teniste, Vihmann, Tamm, Pikk - Ojamaa (Zenjov, 60.), Dmitrijev, Vassiljev (Purje, 82.), Antonov - Luts (Puri, 77.), Anier
Goalscorers: Orbán 8', Szalai 69'.