NB I – Round 20 Review

The NBI came roaring back to life this weekend with plenty of action, goals, drama, and some naughty behavior that played a part in some of this week’s results. Read on!

Videoton 5-1 Újpest

My prediction: Videoton 2-1 Újpest

Videoton swept aside ten-man Újpest in a game that Serbian strike partners Danko Lazovic and Marko Scepovic had full control of. It wasn’t the result but the final score which caught most people’s attention at the Pancho Aréna. Újpest weren’t as bad as the scoreline suggested and, in fact, looked the more focused team in the early moments. Lilák grabbed the early lead when Mihailo Perovic glanced a looping header beyond the despairing dive of Vidi keeper Adám Kovácsik and into the far corner of the net just seven minutes in.
Videoton missed a gilt edged opportunity to respond when Asmir Suljic made a penetrating run behind the defense to latch onto a pinpoint Scepovic pass. Suljic rounded the keeper but drove his shot inexplicably past the far post with the goal begging.
The hosts wouldn’t waste anymore opportunities, however and soon were level when a deflected Scepovic pass reached Anel Hadzic who somehow bundled the bouncing ball beyond Szabolcs Balajcza for the equalizer. Vidi grabbed the lead before the hour when Suljic intercepted a poor pass and set the hosts on a quick counter that put Scepovic behind the defense. He easily beat Balajcza and Videoton were on their way.
More awful defending by Újpest allowed Scepovic the chance to set up Sujlic once more and this time the Bosnian took his chance and slotted easily past the keeper, 3-1.
The wheels began to fall off for Lilák and Souleymane Diarra’s dismissal just after the hour mark was the last straw. A frustrated Diarra kept hawking after Péter Solymosi after being booked earlier for a foul, and he was shown a second yellow for dissent leaving the visitors with little hope to get back into the game.
The hosts marched on and a brilliant back heel from Lazovic set up Scepovic to score their fourth. Stopira applied the gloss with his third of the season when he rifled home from a tight angle after being set up by new-boy Mirko Maric’s deft touch deep inside the box. It was a clinical performance from a team that look odds on to reclaim the title after a season’s absence.

Mezőkövesd 3-0 Diósgyor

My prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-0 Diósgyor

New Mezőkövesd manager Tomislav Sivic got his tenure off on the right foot with a comprehensive 3-0 over visiting Diòsgyör. His side got a bit of help after DVTK winger Roland Ugrai was dismissed for a second yellow before the break. The hosts were on the front foot for most of the opening stage and Ugrai’s cynical foul set up Mezo’s first goal. Marek Strestik’s curled free kick was met by new-signing Béla Balogh who announced his arrival with a firm header that bounced inside the near post to give Sivic’s side the lead on 37 minutes.
Diósgyor could have been level before the break if former Ferencváros midfielder Attila Busai didn’t get in the way of Diego Vela’s curling corner. Vela’s offering missed everyone and struck Busai’s feet on the goal line and bounced clear. It was a low moment for the midfielder who had been swapped for fan-favorite István Bognár during the winter break.
The hosts doubled their lead right on the hour when Gábor Molnár burst down the right side and fed Stipe Bacelic-Grgic who rifled home past Botond Antal. It was Bacelic-Grgic’s first touch after coming on for Branko Pauljevic less than a minute earlier.
Lazar Vezelinovic could have been the second debutant to open his account on the day but his header off of Strestik’s long cross was expertly saved by Antal on 78 minutes.
The game was finally put to bed when Molnár beat Antal to another dangerous cross from Strestik and poked it home from close range. The win gave the newly promoted side 30 points on the season. It’s hard to comprehend that Mezo are just a point off of Ferencváros this late in the campaign.

Gyirmót 0-0 Paks

My prediction: Gyirmót 1-1 Paks

Considering how both these teams have played in recent games this was never going to be a finely crafted sonnet of the ‘beautiful game’. Gyirmót is heading for relegation at the speed of sound, and Paks are used to grinding out results rather than putting on attacking clinics. Gyirmót pushed forward early but never really threatened. Former Honvéd keeper Oleksandr Nad started his first game since joining Gyirmót over the break. He was called into action midway through the first half when he needed to tip over an errant corner that might have found a way under the bar if not for his quick thinking. In first half injury time an ambitious bicycle kick from Gyirmót new signing Bebeto looked more impressive than it was dangerous as Paks goalkeeper, Péter Molnár, made a routine save to keep it out at his near post.
Neither side really seemed dangerous in this one as the better chances mostly came from set pieces, but even those were poorly executed and fizzled out.
The best opportunity for either side came four minutes from time when Patrik Vass cut inside from the right wing and made a mazy run inside the box before chipping a cross into the six-yard box. Substitute Csanád Novák was there to meet the ball with a glancing header but only into the waiting arms of Molnár. A share of the points was a fair result for both sides in this one.

MTK Budapest 1-2 Budapest Honvéd

My prediction: MTK Budapest 1-1 Budapest Honvéd

Honvéd survived a tough encounter against rivals MTK as a late, second half penalty gave them maximum points to stay on course with Videoton at the top of the league. MTK set their stall to frustrate and it was slow going in the opening minutes, but a warning shot from Márton Eppel required an alert save from MTK keeper Danijel Petkovic on 17 minutes. Later, it was Márk Koszta who played the ball off for Patrick Ikenne-King darting down the right side. Ikenne-King blasted a tight-angled shot that was kept out by Petkovic again. 
It wasn’t all one way traffic, however, and Sándor Torghelle was at the heart of the host’s best moves. He created some space just after the half hour and lashed a drive on goal with the outside of his right foot but it was easily absorbed by an alert Dávid Gróf in Honvéd’s goal.
Kispest got closer and it was Ikenne-King once more from the right, but he drove his low shot across the goal but just wide of the far post.
The hosts were held to long-range efforts that never really tested Gróf, and then the opener came for Honvéd just after the break. Ikenne-King was given a lot of time on the ball inside the box and he held it long enough for Davide Lanzafame to find a seam. Ikenne-King found his target and Lanzafame turned and poked the ball into the roof of the net from close range to bag his 8th goal of the season in fine fashion.
MTK wouldn’t be kept off the scoresheet at home and Bálint Vogyicska had a moment of brilliance with a nimble run into the area but was brought down by a Honvéd defender. Torghelle confidently stepped up and beat Gróf despite the keeper guessing the right side.
Things went pear-shaped for MTK when József Kanta and then Torghelle clashed with Dániel Gazdag who went down in a heap. Replays showed Torghelle lashing out with his left arm and he was shown a straight red for violent conduct. This didn’t sit well with the veteran as he hotly contested Csaba Pintér’s decision, arguing that he himself was hit in the mouth. Drama ensued but Sanyi eventually accepted his marching orders and headed for an early shower.
Despite playing with a man down, MTK played with grit and forced Gróf to come off his line aggressively to collect a couple of dangerous through balls.
The winner came from a questionable penalty as Lanzafame collected a looping cross inside the area and fell over as MTK defender Dániel Vadnai got his foot to the ball to clear it. Márton Eppel drilled the spot kick right down the middle as Petkovic dove to his left and Honvéd had the lead with 13 minutes remaining.
Honvéd had to hold on in the final stages despite having the man advantage and a late corner set off warning signs as Myke just missed a header at the far post. It wasn’t Honvéd’s best performance of the season and they seemed to miss Endre Botka on the right side but they got the points and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.

Debrecen 0-0 Ferencváros

My prediction: Debrecen 0-2 Ferencváros

The final match of the day should have been a showpiece for Thomas Doll’s stockpile of new signings at Ferencváros. Instead, the match sputtered, coughed and it looked as if nothing had changed for the champions in a goalless draw at 10th place Debrecen.
It’s not to say Fradi didn’t have their chances. Tamás Hajnal’s free kick found the head of Emir Dilaver just 8 minutes in but the Austrian could only head over the bar despite being virtually unchallenged at the top of the six-yard box.
Later in the first half, another great pass from Hajnal found András Radó drifting away from the defense but he waited too long and his tight-angled shot was blocked by Branislav Danilovic at his near post.
Hajnal continued to provide quality deliveries and a 34th minute corner evaded everyone including a missed punch by Danilovic. The ball fell to Julian Koch at the far post but the Doll’s new right back couldn’t react fast enough to turn the ball in for a first half lead. At the other end, Debrecen’s new signing Frank Feltscher almost beat Dénes Dibusz with a drilled effort from distance, but the Fradi keeper somehow got a hand to the shot and kept it out.
The second half started brightly for Ferencváros with another of Doll’s new signings pluming his feathers. Amadou Moutari strutted down the right side and cut inside a defender before smashing a tight-angled shot off the outside of the near post on 52 minutes.
Despite some horrible defending by the champions they emerged unscathed as Debrecen were unable to get their shots on target. János Ferenczi fired over the bar after a great first touch put him in a fine position on 57 minutes, and then Dávid Holman couldn’t turn a great pass from Hyun-jun Suk on frame from 15 yards. A better team would have made Fradi pay dearly.
At the other end Ferencváros mirrored their opponents profligacy when Gergő Lovrencsics teed up Radó with another great chance but it was drilled right into the arms of the keeper. Their best chance came with two minutes remaining when a Janek Sternberg free kick caused havoc inside the Debrecen box. The initial offering pinballed between a couple of players before Oliver Hüsing made a right-footed lunge that was expertly blocked by Danilovic. Radó’s follow-up shot was blocked and as Sternberg came into the area to control the loose ball it looked as if he was upended by Aleksandar Jovanovic but no penalty was called – rightfully so, perhaps, as replays showed he nicked the ball before crashing into the legs of the big German.
Leonel Pontes will be elated that his side were able to earn a point against the champions while Thomas Doll heads back to the pressure cooker of expectant supporters who want more.
This is the first time Ferencváros have been out of the top 3 this late in the season since the 2013/14 campaign when Debrecen won the league. Who could have imagined that Mezőkövesd could be ahead of Ferencváros in February? Now, before you start hoarding bottled water and preparing for the end of the world, it would take two unlikely results next week for us to witness a fifth-placed Fradi, but not much has gone according to plan this season. Has it? Stay tuned.

My player of the round: Marko Scepovic (Videoton)