England 3-6 Hungary – Match Report

Standup formation of the hungarian Golden Team...
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England’s long and illustrious home unbeaten record against non-UK opposition came to an abrupt end, as Nandor Hidegukti and the Magical Magyars smashed England 6-3 in front of a sold out Wembley crowd.

It is unknown how Walter Winterbottom’s side will recover from this setback with the 1954 World Cup less than a year away, as the 1952 Olympic champions outclassed them in every single department.

Hungary lined up in their accustomed 3-2-5 formation with Budai and Czibor operating as attacking wingers but also helping out defensively to stop the runs of the English widemen.

England opted for the same formation, but the lack of fluidity which proved to be the downfall in this encounter.

Over 100,000 people had packed into Wembley and they were eagerly anticipating a straightforward win for the English and maintain their unbeaten record against foreign teams at the great stadium.

The unfancied Hungarians kicked off the game after Puskas showcased some of his ball juggling skills in the centre circle, and they showed their attacking intent from the off by stringing 5 passes together before winning a throw in next to the corner flag. The throw in was subsequently wasted but the Hungarians quickly regained possession deep in the English half through Bozsik who played a quick one-two with Zakarias before moving the ball into Hidegkuti’s path. He then beat the defender with ease on the edge of the area and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner leaving Merrick with no chance. 1-0 to Hungary inside a minute and the English were shell shocked.

The Hungarians weren’t ready to rest of their laurels, and the game started off at an incredible pace each team having several sights of goal inside the first 10 minutes, with Puskas coming closest with a powerful shot which was smartly saved by the English keeper Merrick, and just two minutes later Hidegkuti inexplicably headed wide from just 5 yards after excellent work again from Puskas on the edge of the box.

Hungary then began to become even more dominant. Bozsik and Zakarias controlled everything in the centre of the pitch and Budai was becoming a constant threat on the right hand side. The possession was very much in the Hungarians favour too, with the English struggling to keep the ball or even get out of their own half.

Then after just 11 minutes, Hungary had the ball in the net again but the goal was bizarrely ruled out for offside. Puskas picked the ball up just inside his own half and ran forward playing a clever one-two with Hidegkuti. Puskas then swivelled on the ball just outside the area and played a beautifully weighted ball back inside to Hidegkuti who fired home from about 12 yards out. Unfortunately for Hungary the linesman ruled out the goal but replays show Hidegkuti was about 6 (SIX) yards onside with three defenders playing him on. It was a bizarre decision from the officials and Hidegkuti just shook his head at disbelief at the decision, and just 4 minutes later, Hungary were to pay for their misfortune.

Hidegkuti, who had been pulling the strings for Hungary, gave the ball away on the edge of England’s box. Johnston interecepted and marched down the pitch unopposed, into Hungary’s half. He then played a good ball to Mortensen who took one touch, looked up and played a great ball to Sewell who finished superbly from about 8 yards out. 1-1, and for all Hungary’s dominance they now found themselves on level terms.

However Hungary responded in great style with two quick goals. The first coming after 20 minutes when a poor clearance from the English keeper was pounced up on by Puskas who played the ball swiftly outside to Czibor before receiving it back inside the area. The danger had looked to have been over when Johnston made a crucial tackle just outside the 6 yard box, to which 4 England players crowded around the ball and attempted to limp it into touch. But somehow Puskas’ persistence, whilst on the floor, paid off and stuck out a leg, flicked the ball into Hidegkuti’s feet, who fired home past the helpless keeper.

The third Hungarian goal just summed up the fluidity of this side. Budai found himself with plenty of room on the right hand side. He played a superb ball down the line to the man who was supposed to be playing left wing, Czibor, who slid the ball inside to Puskas. He dragged the ball backwards leaving Billy Wright on his backside, before smashing the ball home. 3-1, and England were fearing the worst.

Thing’s didn’t let up for England and Hungary’s 4th just came minutes after, arriving in bizarre fashion. Budai was fouled on the edge of the area, and even though England had gotten everyone back they had failed to set up a wall. The free kick was smashed by Bozsik and deflected in by Puskas past the hapless keeper. The game now seemed to very much be over.

At 4-1, not even the over confident English could think they would get back into this one. The English defenders simply didn’t know what to do with the 5 Hungarian attackers. Hidegkuti and Puskas were dropping deep bringing the defenders out of position leaving gaps for Budai and Czibor, who were bamboozling the England defence by switching positions, with Kocscis playing straight through the middle in a rigid role.

This was in deep contrast to England’s style of play. They were playing with 5 rigid men up top, and the defenders were just punting long balls up to them hoping that they could hold it up and bring other men into play. This simply wasn’t working, and in fact they were just wasting possession, which quickly started another Hungarian wave of attack.

Each keeper had made a couple of outstanding saves before the next goal was scored, and despite Hungary’s constant pressure that goal went to England [BBC lost 4 minutes of coverage at this point, including England’s 2nd goal from Mortensen which has never been found].

England might have thought there was a way back into the game at this point. They were piling on the pressure, and the Wembley crowd were really behind the home team. Unfortunately for England, the half-time whistle came just at the wrong moment, and the teams went into the dressing room at 4-2.

England also started the brighter after half-time testing Gyula Grosics in the Hungarian goal several times, but it was Hungary who opened the 2nd half scoring. Jozsef Bozsik scoring a screamer from just outside the area which the goalkeeper nor the man on the line could prevent from going in.

That meant it was pretty much it for England, who looked to have gained confidence following their 2nd goal.

The 6th and final Hungarian goal was as good as you will see. After 4 or 5 passes, Buzanszky played a great ball to Budai who cleverly flicked the ball over his head to Koscis who nodded it down to Puskas’ feet. He took a touch, looked up and delivered an outrageous ball to the back post which Nandor Hidegkuti duly smashed home to complete his hat trick, and compile more sorrow on the England team.

England did rally with a penalty 4 minutes later from Ramsey but the damage had already been done, and the home team had been outclassed by the Magical Magyars.

Hungary; Grosics – Buzanszky , Lorant , Lantos – Bozsik , Zakarias – Budai , Kocsis , Hidegkuti , Puskas (captain), Czbior

England; Merrick – Ramsey , Johnston , Eckersley – Wright (captain), Dickinson – Matthews , Taylor , Mortensen , Sewell , Robb

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