Despite the misfortune of being drawn into the Group of Death, Hungary have held their own at Euro 2020. Buoyed by the passions of the home crowd emerging out of the pandemic, they have given a massive challenge to both Portugal, the defending European Champions and France, the defending World Champions. In fact, for 175 of the 180 minutes played, Hungary have been either level or, as against France today, leading (!) in the games.
But, as is so often the case, the gulf of quality between two footballing sides was eventually exposed at the end. The level of talent in both Portugal and France, up and down their lineups is ridiculous. Portugal scored three times in the final five minutes (taking full advantage of a fortunate bounce or two) while France looked set to do the same after Antoine Griezmann blasted a loose ball rebound into the back of the net just past the hour mark for the leveler. But this time, Hungary held on!
Attila Fiola, man of 4 goals in over 350 career appearances, had the nation believing when he burst past Benjamin Pavard and Raphaël Varane on the counter to surprise Hugo Lloris with a near post shot in first-half added-on time. No better time to score! (The celebration is already part of Euro lore, with the poor stadium announcer becoming an unwitting participant.)
Péter Gulácsi, embodied by the spirit if not the sweatpants of Gábor Király, pulled off great saves in either half, while Karim Benzema had himself a shocking miss before making way to Olivier Giroud for the final quarter of an hour. But not even the Chelsea man could find the winning goal. N’Golo Kanté, as usual, played the full 90. Kurt Zouma did not make the matchday squad.
So, not quite Magical Magyars, but a result to celebrate for the home side. Their hopes remain alive for advancing, but will have to beat Germany in the final group game. France meanwhile will take on Portugal, and with something to play for.