NBI week 19 review

Heading into the winter break, the final round of 2016 didn’t disappoint as three teams are now level at the top of OTP Bank Liga table. It’s been a thrilling ride with a number of twists and turns and round 19 was no different. Videoton and Honvéd finally caught Vasas at the top as the league leaders stumbled in Paks. Fradi’s punctuated their disappointing season with more lost points at home. Sándor Torghelle’s late, equalizing header continued MTK’s hoodoo over the champions. Read on for a complete review of the weekend’s results.

Budapest Honvéd 1-0 Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE
My prediction: Budapest Honvéd 2-2 Mezőkövesd-Zsóry

Márton Eppel scored his seventh of the season to lead Kispest over visiting Mezőkövesd who themselves spurned a late chance to earn a share of the points. This contest didn’t have the offensive display I was hoping for but it was a key component in the current congestion at the top of the table. Both teams were on fire heading into this one but chances were few and far between in this one.
Davide Lanzafame returned to the Honvéd lineup and had all the chances in the first 45 minutes. He looked to make an immediate impact with an odd free kick routine on the quarter hour that fooled no one, including Mező goalkeeper Tomas Tujvel who dove to his right to push the shot away from danger. Lanzafame had another opportunity a few minutes later when a wild clearing attempt by Gergö Gohér fell kindly for the Italian who hit a wicked, dipping shot that was just barely tipped onto the bar by Tujvel and cleared. The last chance of the first half came off a Honvéd corner where Márk Koszta headed down for Lanzafame who couldn’t connect and Tujvel claimed the ball easily.
Early in the second half, Koszta and Lanzafame were wasteful with long range opportunities that didn’t trouble Tujvel and, just when it seemed that Honvéd had been sedated, they struck. Endre Botka stepped into a Mezo counter and intercepted a pass and drove down the right channel. With the visitors scrambling to get back, Botka curled a perfect cross to Eppel who beat Dávid Hudák to the ball and headed back across the goal where Tujvel’s fingertips at full stretch weren’t enough to keep it out.
Then, in injury time, Mezőkövesd had a glorious opportunity to level when a failed clearing attempt by Honvéd’s defense fell to Marek Streštik but, with the goal at his mercy, he inexplicably volleyed the ball behind him when it seemed easier to score.

Diósgyori VTK 1-0 Gyirmót FC Gyor
My prediction: Diósgyor 2-0 Gyirmót

As predicted, Diósgyor sent Gyirmót to an eighth consecutive defeat, but not without a fight. The visitors featured another aging custodian in 37 year-old Zsolt Sebők who fancies the 80’s sweatpant look (a la Gábor Király). András Simon had a glorious chance to put the visitors ahead on 15 minutes when he rose highest and glanced a curling corner kick just beyond the far post.
Shortly after, the hosts showed them how it’s done as they broke the deadlock on their first corner kick. Patrik Bacsa’s delivery was headed away to Diego Vela outside the area. The Spaniard unleashed what looked to be a manageable shot from distance but it fooled Zsolt Sebők and escaped his efforts to keep it out.
The visitors were undaunted and found ways to level the score but, as has been their main problem all season, they were unable to finish. Maté Kiss hit a sweet free kick that hit the outside of the post – a classic missed opportunity.
Sebők almost conceded another as he came off his line to claim a high free kick amidst a crowd of defenders. Diósgyor skipper Zoltán Lipták was first to the ball but headed just wide of the gaping goal.
Miklós Kitl played Lipták into the area on 42 minutes but his first touch was heavy and Sebők came off his line to claim it. With halftime approaching Lipták was hoping the third time was the charm as he was teed up in the area, but his tight-angled shot was expertly turned aside by Sebők.
A fine save from Ivan Rados denied Norbert Csiki from equalizing for Gyirmót off a free kick from 30 yards out. With time running out Rados was equal to another long-range attempt from Csiki but he couldn’t collect it. The spilled shot fell to Dániel Sallói whose follow-up shot wasn’t struck cleanly and flew well wide.
The defeat sent Gyirmót further into relegation certainty as they’re now 7 points adrift from the safety line.

Paksi FC 1-0 Vasas SC
My prediction: Paksi 1-1 Vasas

Vasas were frustrated by Paksi who did what they’ve done all season – succeed. The hosts frustrated the league leaders with some strong defending to win consecutive games for the first time this season. It was also Aurél Csertoi’s side’s fourth clean sheet at home this season.
Vasas heaped on the pressure in the first half and their best chance came through Evgen Pavlov who collected an incisive pass behind the defense with a well-timed run, but Péter Molnár came off his line well and made an equally impressive block.
The hosts first chance came when Dénes Szakály ran into a smart pass from Tamás Koltai inside the area, but his flubbed back heel attempt was easily shepherded away from danger.
Paks did get a break through before the break, but it wasn’t pretty. It was Koltai with another great cross for János Hahn who tried to flick the ball beyond Gergely Nagy with the outside of his foot. The ball was kicked into the Vasas keeper by a defender and Hahn was there to tap the ball over the line for the lead.
In the second half Vasas pushed for an equalizer that would never come. Mohamed Remili struck a free kick that flashed past Molnár’s right hand post. With time running out, Zsolt Korcsmar headed a free kick back across goal where Pavlov narrowly missed a tap in as he crashed the net.
As the pressure mounted, Paksi’s resolve grew and they nearly added another in the closing moments when substitute Richárd Vernes broke through with a counter attack and was denied by an expert reaction save from Nagy. Minutes later Vernes beat his defender again down the right side and slotted a dangerous low cross to Hahn at the far post, but Nagy was there to make the save again. The final whistle sparked relief and celebration from the Paksi dugout and stands alike.

Szombathelyi Haladás 1-1 Videoton FC
My prediction: Haladás 1-2 Videoton

Haladás were able to hold on to deny Videoton a third consecutive win after coming from behind early to draw level in the second half. The visitors grabbed an early lead when Anel Hadzic drilled a pinpoint cross to Marko Scepovic who opened up his hips and side-footed the ball back across the keeper and in for a 15th minute lead.
Krisztián Géresi almost doubled Vidi’s lead when he broke free down the left side but his left-footed shot skimmed past the far post.
Haladás came close when Szabolcs Schimmer delivered a right wing cross that was expertly controlled and volleyed by Péter Halmosi but Ádám Kovácsic got across his goal to block superbly.
In the opening seconds of the second half the visitors threatened again. This time it was Scepovic who provided Danko Lazovic with a great ball across the goalmouth but his attempted tap-in was somehow kept out by a sprawling Márton Gyurján.
The hosts started their ascendancy after Lazovic’s spurned chance and it culminated in the equalizer before the hour mark. Bálint Gaál lined up his free kick from 25 yards and he drilled it past the right side of the wall and somehow past Kovácsic who seemed to be in perfect position. It was Gaál’s fifth goal in his last six and he was clearly delighted with that one.
Videoton continued their quest for a second but were denied by the alert Gyurján on two occasions.
Haladás had their chance to win when the broke on a counter attack with 5 minutes remaining and a cross to a wide open Halmosi was headed right at the keeper. The Haladás skipper could only hold his head in his hands after that miss.
Not to be outdone, Vidi spurned one last chance when a looping free kick fell to Stopira at the far post but he didn’t time his sweep and the ball bounced away for a goal kick.
Both sides had their chances to take all the points but it wasn’t to be.

Újpest FC 2-0 Debreceni VSC
My prediction: Újpest 3-2 Debrecen

After missing their last seven games, Újpest goalkeeper Szabolcs Balajcza picked up right where he left off with two early saves in return to action with his club. The Lilák captain was sharp from the beginning and marshaled his defense well throughout. The hosts never really threatened in the opening 45 minutes, but Debrecen almost grabbed the lead heading into the interval. Dávid Holman broke free through the middle and had Balajcza leaning the other way but he couldn’t strike the ball cleanly and it flew past the near post.
Újpest opened the scoring early in the second half when Mihailo Perovic cut out to the right side and floated in a dangerous cross. Enis Bardhi and goalkeeper István Verpecz collided in mid-air allowing Nemanja Andric to sweep in and smash the ball home.
Holman had Debrecen’s best chance to equalize with a free kick but it dipped just over the bar from 30 yards.
Lilák put the result beyond doubt when a sweeping move that was started by Balázs Balogh’s slide-rule pass down the right channel to Andric who played it to Benjamin Cseke at the top of the area. Cseke played the ball to his left where Bardhi was unmarked and the Macedonia international fired it just inside the far post. It was a lovely goal and it extended Nebojša Vignjevic’s squad’s unbeaten run to ten games.

Ferencvárosi TC 1-1 MTK Budapest
My prediction: Ferencvaros 3-1 MTK Budapest

It was another disappointing result for Fradi as they looked toothless once again in front of goal. They were also forced to play the majority of the second half with 10 men after Vladan Cukic was dismissed for a second yellow card.
MTK almost drew fist blood when Patrik Poór played a long ball into the area for Sándor Torghelle who held off a defender but could only drag his shot wide of the far post.
Ferencváros did score first and it came from some good attacking movement but they needed a touch from an opposing defender to get the job done. Dániel Böde played a nice ball to Marco Djuricin who one-timed an angled ball in for Dominik Nagy, but defender Ákos Baki poked the ball into his own net in an attempt to break up the play with a sliding tackle.
Cukic’s reckless challenge on Dániel Gera was the turning point for Fradi as Sándor Andó-Szabó gave him his marching orders for a second yellow card.
Zoltán Gera’s curling free kick looked destined to nestle inside the far post but it was well-saved by Danijel Petkovic’s diving effort.
Then, at the other end, Jószef Kanta’s free kick found a familiar target in Torghelle who headed inside the near post for the equalizer.
MTK should have won a penalty later in the half when Darko Nikac’s close range shot was clearly kept out by Dominik Nagy’s arm, but their appeals fell on deaf ears.
Torghelle almost won it at the death for the visitors when he rose highest and met Ronald Takács’ cross with a powerful header that fizzed just wide of the near post.
Boos were heard around the Groupama as the final whistle blew. Thomas Doll’s future may well hang in the balance over the break as the champions fail to take advantage of other results and remain four points adrift of the top.