Hungary has said farewell to the 2016 UEFA European Championship after suffering a heavy but dignified defeat from Belgium at the Stadium Municipal de Toulouse, paving the way for Belgium’s quarter-final showdown with Wales in Lille on Friday.
After Toby Alderweireld got Belgium off to a flying start with a thumping header in the 10th minute, Hazard set up substitute Michy Batshuayi to make it 2-0 in the 77th minute and then added a brilliant third goal himself two minutes later, before Yannick Carrasco completed the rout late on. The three late strikes for Belgium though gave a final score of 4-0 which was somewhat harsh on Hungary and certainly not indicative of how close a match it had been for long periods.
Belgium and Chelsea forward Eden Hazard was the indisputable star of the match
Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard offered his best-ever performance for his country, which reminded us all why he was voted Footballer of the Year just over a year ago.
Hazard led by example as Belgium blew away Hungary, who were still in the game after 76 minutes thanks mostly to the national team’s tracksuited goalkeeper Gábor Király, who at 40 years of age oldest man to appear in the European Championship finals.
Having been neck and neck with Kevin De Bruyne as Belgium’s playmaker and best player for an hour, Hazard finally found his groove and crossed for Michy Batshuayi to make it 2-0 in the 77th minute and then added a superb solo goal two minutes later. Then, another substitute, Yannick Carrasco, finished Hungary off with one last goal in the final minute of the match, resulting in the end score of 4-0.
1:0: Alderweireld scores lead for Belgium in the tenth minute of the match as the ball flies into the net above “Pyjama Man” goalie Gábor Király
Despite knockout, Hungary put on an admirable fight against the world’s second-strongest team, with “Pyjama Man” goalkeeper Király arguably being the biggest Hungarian star of the match.
He kept De Bruyne at bay with a close-range stop, and then saved well from Dries Mertens, who was through on goal but shot straight at the keeper, before holding a tame header from De Bruyne, who was running the show along with Eden Hazard.
But the Hungarian keeper made his best save shortly before half-time when he kept out a piledriver from Mertens at point-blank range, with Adam Lang deflecting the follow-up shot from Hazard wide.
Hungary defender Lang is brought hurtling down into the turf following a forceful challenge from Belgium’s Vertonghen
But it was not all one-way traffic. Hungary were disrupted from the start when star midfielder Laszlo Kleinheisler was injured in the warm up and had to be replaced by Ádám Pintér.
Attacking midfielder Zoltán Gera had promised before kickoff that the Hungarians would shoot on sight from any range and they were as good as his word. Gergő Lovrencsics tried his luck three times in the first-half, the closest sailing just over the bar from 25 yards.
Skipper Balázs Dzsudzsák, who scored twice against Portugal from long-range, also went close twice, drawing a good save from Thibaut Courtois and then going just wide of the post as the Hungarians chased an equaliser.
German coach Bernd Storck’s men really upped the pace after the break, though not before Király made another brilliant stop to tip over a curling effort from Hazard.
But Hungary, roared on by their noisy fans, fought back. Ádám Szalai, who’d scored against Austria in their first game, had a great chance early in the second half but his shot was high and wide from a tight angle. Hungary continued to attack until the final moments, with Courtois saving from Szalai, Lovrencsics and an Elek thunderbolt.
Yesterday’s match thus marked the end of Hungary’s two-week fairytale, which saw the country initially hammer Austria 2-0, then score a draw with Iceland and an impressive 3-3 result against Portugal after sensationally qualifying for the European Championship for the first time in 44 years.
Now watch the best moments of the action-packed match:
Hungary 0-4 Belgium (0-1)
Hungary: Gábor Király – Ádám Lang, Roland Juhász (Dániel Böde 79’), Richárd Guzmics, Tamás Kádár – Ádám Pintér (Nemanja Nikolić 75’), Ádám Nagy – Gergő Lovrencsics, Zoltán Gera (Ákos Elek 46’), Balázs Dzsudzsák – Ádám Szalai.
Head coach: Bernd Storck
Belgium: Courtois – Meunier, Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Vertonghen – Nainggolan, Witsel – Mertens (Carrasco 70’), De Bruyne, Hazard (Fellaini 80’) – Lukaku (Batshuayi 76’).
Head coach: Marc Wilmots
Goalscorers: BEL: Alderweireld (10’), Batshuayi (78’), Hazard (80’), Carrasco (90+1’)
via telegraph.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk and dailynewshungary.hu
photos: Reuters, AFP and EPA