Euro 2016: great start for the Hungarian team

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Originially published in French, on Hongrie Actuelle.

France, Bordeaux – For her comeback after 44 years of absence in the Euro, Hungary has marked the occasion by winning 2-0 against Austria at her first match in the competition.

What millions of Magyars were waiting for decades now happened last night in Bordeaux: to see Hungarian players tread the grass of a European Championship. Following a heroic qualification against Norway in playoff and three friendly matches rather mixed, the Hungarian team moved to France without setting any goal, being an outsider that some also see to complete one of the last places.

La tribune des supporters hongrois dans le stade de Bordeaux. (Photo : NSO / Hegedüs Gábor)
The Hungarian supporters in Bordeaux. (Photo : NSO / Hegedüs Gábor)

About 10,000 Hungarian fans have made the trip for this long-awaited meeting. But the euphoria of the Magyars could have been very short: only thirty seconds after the kickoff, the Austrian David Alaba shot’s hit the post. Hungarians began the match visibly tensed, the atmosphere of this competition and the challenge was indeed unknown to all players with the red-white-green jersey. Many technical errors but mostly few attacks occurred during the first half, Hungarians preferring to lock the defense successfully. It took the experience and bravery of Gábor Király, the older goalkeeper of the tournament to keep the Austrians in a draw. This is only at the end of the first half that the first real opportunity of the Hungarians came but the captain Balázs Dzsudzsák missed the goal when he was only at a few meters.

After the break, Hungary gradually took control of the game, not just defending well but also by truly carrying the danger upon the opposite goal. And this is with a very nice collective action embodied by Ádám Szalai in the 62nd minute that Hungarians opened the score. That brought an explosion of joy not only in Bordeaux but also in Budapest, especially on the Margaret Island where more than 8,000 people gathered in front of a giant screen. And those chills have been amplified twenty minutes later when, after a counter-attack led by Zoltán Stieber – who replaced Szalai – lobbed the Austrian keeper. Meanwhile, Austria was reduced to ten players with the second yellow synonymous of red card for Dragovic. At the final whistle, all Magyars celebrated, hardly believing they just won a match at the Euro. Yes, Hungary has won at the European championship. True, only a game yet, but the joy of the fans who celebrated late into the night in the streets of Bordeaux and of Budapest was comparable to a final victory.

In addition to the players who gave everything of themselves, especially by being present on all the duels, Hungarian shall also thank the German coach Bernd Storck: he never lost his confidence into Ádám Szalai even when he was playing in the Bundesliga and that he had been roundly criticized and booed during a friendly match. Szalai has probably regained the sympathy of fans with his determination – despite many mistakes – and a perfect finish in face to face with the Austrian goalkeeper. In addition, Bernd Storck then opted out Szalai and that decision has again paid off as the player taking his place did actually secured the Magyar victory.

The Hungarian anthem sung by the players and fans after the victory:

No matter that it was only a first group match, no one will take the pride from the Magyars who are now preparing for a match against Iceland on Saturday which could be decisive for the qualification. Moreover, in the other match of the group, Portugal has only draw against the Icelanders, allowing Hungary to be ahead of the F group on this day.

By this performance, the Hungarian football team silenced all the patronizing commentators of the French press, some of them even attacking the team for political reason, as did the big sport newspaper L’Equipe, which had been condemned by the Hungarian embassy in France.

Les joueurs de l’équipe de Hongrie célébrant leur victoire contre l’Autriche. (Photo : MTI / Illyés Tibor)
Hungarian players celebrating their victory with their supporters. (Photo : MTI / Illyés Tibor)

UEFA Euro 2016, Day 1, Group F
AUSTRIA-HUNGARY 0-2 (0-0)
Bordeaux, Matmut Atlantic, 34,424 spectators.
Main referee: Clément Turpin (French)
AUSTRIA: Almer – Klein, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Fuchs – Baumgartlinger, Alaba – Harnik (Schöpf, 78.) Junuzovic (Sabitzer, 59.) Arnautovic – Janko (Okotie, 65.)
Coach: Marcel Koller
HUNGARY: Király – Fiola, Guzmics, Lang, Kádár – Gera, Nagy Á. – Dzsudzsák, Kleinheisler (Stieber, 79), K. Nemeth (Pintér Á, 89.) – Szalai (Priskin, 69.)
Coach Bernd Storck
Scorers: Szalai (62), Stieber (87.)
Red cards: Dragovic (66 – 2 yellow cards)

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