A 0-4 defeat against England, and a historic defeat in Albania (0-1) has put the Hungarian national 11 in fourth place in the group and in an even more difficult situation for the World Cup qualification.
Albania had never even previously scored against Hungary, with 0-0 being their best result ever, back in 1948. The hosts’ bitter series lasted until last night, as Albania not only managed to take the Hungarian net (young talent Broja’s goal came in the 87th minute) but also to eventually claim victory in Elbasan.
Not only the result, but also the performance of the Hungarian team was disappointing. Goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi had to be substituted due to a head injury (it seems that it isn’t serious), and second goalie, Dénes Dibusz himself admitted that he should have reacted quicker before the Albanian goal.
With this defeat, Hungary slipped back to fourth place in the group, drifting further away from the much-desired qualification for the World Cup (the group winner qualifies automatically while seconds are due for the play-off). As of the current standing, Hungary wouldn’t be eligible for the World Cup play-offs through the Nations League either (where it won its group last year).
Coach Marco Rossi admitted after the final whistle that Albania was better and their victory was well-deserved, although claiming that the defeat was “not the end of the world.” “Nothing is lost yet, we [still] have Albania visiting, and we’re going to Poland!”, the Italian coach commented somewhat optimistically on the future chances after the team’s second loss in a row. “…the mathematical chance is still there, we’ll see what we can do. The responsibility is mine, I decide who plays and who doesn’t – even if the result and the performance were not what we expected, but I stress that there is still reason to be optimistic.”
Albania-Hungary 1–0 (0–0)
Elbasan, attendance: 4,500
Albania: E. Berisha – Doka (Hoxhallari, 78.), Ismajli, Djimsiti, Kumbulla – Abrashi (Cekici, 69.), Gjasula, Trashi (Roshi, a szünetben) – Uzuni, Balaj (Broja, 78.), Bajrami (Laci, 63.). Coach: Edoardo Reja
Hungary: Gulácsi (Dibusz, in halftime) – Orbán, Lang, A. Szalai – Botka (R. Varga, 89.), Kleinheisler (Nikolics, 90+3.), Á. Nagy, Gazdag (D. Sallói, 67.), Fiola – Szoboszlai – R. Sallai (J. Hahn, 88.). Coach: Marco Rossi
Goal: Broja (87.)
Next, the team is set to play Andorra on Wednesday in Budapest. An obligatory and easy victory in normal circumstances; at this point, however, psychological recovery will be key in order to prevent the micro-state from defying the odds once again, as it managed to do in 2017. In addition, the RB Leipzig contingent won’t be able to help the team any longer, as Gulácsi, Szoboszlai, and Orbán were due to travel back to the Bundesliga side after yesterday’s game.
featured image: László Kleinheisler (in white) fighting for the ball; by MTI/EPA/Malton Dibra