NBI - round 20 preview

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So, in case you’ve been counting (and I have) it will have been 69 days 23 hours and 49 minutes at kickoff on Saturday since we’ve last seen live Hungarian top flight football. That’s a long time for most people, but for some of you that’s not a big deal. You’re the ones who celebrated the holidays, rang in the New Year, took in a film or binge-watched a Netflix Original series … but come on! Ten weeks feels like an eternity (at least to me). What’s happened in the last ten weeks? A new Star Wars movie was released, the U.S. got a new President, the New England Patriots won another Super Bowl, Cameroon won the African Cup of Nations, and Dmitri Payet left for France.

So much is happening in the world of sports, why look into this relatively small league on the vast European landscape? Because this has been a drama-filled, roller-coaster campaign for NBI thus far. The first half of the season saw the likes of Vasas take the league by the throat early on before the chasing pack caught up to them - leaving a three way tie at the top of the table right as the league shut down for the holidays. Last season’s champions Ferencváros, who had nearly clinched the title at this point last season, are four points off the pace in fourth and under a lot of pressure to retain the title.
Join the few who have discovered the gem of the Nemzeti Bajnokság I, and gear up for the final 14 matches of the season. It’s going to be a great ride. Here are the reports ahead of each game this week.

Gyirmót (12th) vs Paks (8th)
at Alcufer Stadion

Gyirmót dropped into the relegation zone on 29 October and haven’t seen the light of day since. They have lost eight consecutive matches and have only scored twice in that span (dating back to 15 October). Leading scorer Dániel Sallói (2 goals) is already on his way back to Kansas City to get ready for the start of the MLS season, and with no one else stepping up as a goal threat the future looks bleak for Gyirmót. They did add a number of players over the break including Ukrainian winger Volodymyr Tanchyk who is the most intriguing if not the best of the new recruits. Tanchyk played regularly for Olimpic Donetsk who were fourth in the Premier Liga and will look to bring some pace and creativity to their attack.
The last time Gyor won at home was against Vasas but, impressive a result as that was, it was back in September. For István Urbányi and his squad it’s going to be more a question of damage control rather than searching for a way to survive the drop.
Paksi, on the other hand, are a team that impressed in the last few weeks before the break. Consecutive victories over Haladás and Vasas pulled them out of the relegation zone and into 9th place - 3 points clear of the red zone. János Hahn leads the way on offense (5 goals, 1 assist), scoring the winner against Vasas in their last league match. Their away form hasn’t been great but they did defeat Ferencváros at Groupama in early November.
Their first encounter with Gyirmot this season ended in a goalless draw at Paks. It was their first competitive meeting in over ten years, and it’s quite probable that a similar result will take place this week. There were only 7 goalless draws in 114 games in the first 19 rounds, however,so I’ll go for a low scoring draw.

Prediction: Gyirmót 1-1 Paksi

Key facts:
- No player on Gyirmót’s current roster has scored more than one league goal this season
- Gyirmót have scored just four goals in their nine home matches
- Paksi have lost just once in their last six league matches
- Gyirmót have not scored in over 372 minutes of competitive football

MTK Budapest (11th) vs Budapest Honvéd (2nd)
at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadium

New MTK supremo Zsolt Tamási survived the transfer window without losing his leading goal-scorer Sándor Torghelle while picking up another attacker in January. Yuri Kolomoets moved from struggling Vorskla Poltava in the Ukrainian Premier Liga and the 26 year-old striker promptly scored for MTK on his debut - a 2-0 friendly win against Senica. As bad as MTK have been on the road this season, they’ve gone unbeaten at home in their last six. They also haven’t won in their last six games and that simply comes down to a lack of goals. The last time MTK scored more than one goal in a league match was in their 3-2 defeat at Vasas in mid-October. Tamási is hoping that Kolomoets (7 goals in 14 games with Vorskla this season) can help contribute to the cause.
Honvéd ended the first half of the season with a six-match unbeaten run including five victories to put them joint top of the league. Impressively, they’ve only conceded 3 goals in that stretch as well. However, Honvéd’s winter break business has left me scratching my head. They allowed their hottest goal-scorer Dániel Prosser to join NBII side Puskás Akedémia. Perhaps it was a move necessitated by market value, but Prosser had scored three goals in Honvéd’s last six contests and was a big factor in Kispest reaching the top spot in December. They looked very good to rattle the cage and challenge for their first title since 1993 but the jury is still out. They also parted ways with right back Endre Botka (to Fradi) and picked up Balázs Villám, who hasn’t played top flight football for two years.
These types of games are so hard to predict because, after such a long layoff, much will depend upon chemistry and mindset. MTK played five friendlies starting in January, and Honvéd just two, but Honvéd played competitive football last week in a 2-1 Magyar Kupa first leg defeat against Ferencváros. Davide Lanzafame was back on the scoresheet for the first time since ending his seven-match goal scoring run back in early November. Can Marco Rossi pull off a tactical masterpiece and lead this side to a title? Can they repeat their September 5-0 thrashing of MTK? I’m guessing not and it will start with a frustrating draw at the concrete palace.

MTK Budapest 1-1 Budapest Honvéd

Key facts:
- The home team has won 5 of the last six meetings between these two clubs
- MTK were winless in their last six league matches but had four draws
- MTK haven’t lost at home to Honvéd since 2011 and have only lost twice to them there in their last 19 meetings.

Mezőkövesd (6th) vs Diósgyor (9th)
at Mezőkövesd Városi Stadion

As the first half of the season came to a close many were talking about how impressive a job Attila Pintér had done at Mezőkövesd as they sat in sixth position in their first season back in the top flight. Pintér has since moved on to Puskás and his successor, Tomislav Sivic, has some mighty big shoes to fill. Their last two home matches were stuff of legend - victories over Videoton and Ferencváros were inspirational and added to the magic of this season’s competition. One major need for Mezo was the addition of a proven goal-scorer. Pintér brought in Ulysse Diallo who scored three goal in his first two games and then went quiet. There were rumors that his services were being peddled in Turkey but he wasn’t interested in making a change. Mezo did acquire 30 year-old Serbian striker Lazar Veselinovic from the K-League, replacing seldom-used Jan Vosahlik who returned home to the Czech Republic at FK Teplice.
A big boost for Mezőkövesd came in goalkeeper Tomas Tujvel who has kept five clean sheets in their last seven matches.
Diósgyor had a bit of a renaissance in their final four games of the first half. Home wins over Haladás, Paksi and Gyirmót might not seem impressive but they did they the job and picked up maximum points against teams fighting it out in the bottom half of the table. DVTK’s problems have come on their travels, however. They lost 7 of their 9 away games conceding a massive 23 goals. Ferenc Horváth did nothing to address this issue during the winter break. In fact, he lost his most potent attacker István Bognár in a swap deal to Ferencváros. It will be interesting to see how his replacement, Attila Busai, does in his place in central midfield.
I’m not expecting a stroll here for Mezőkövesd but they should still feel pretty confident heading into this one. The only match they played in since the break was a goalless first leg against Gyirmót in the cup. DVTK defeated Cegledi 1-0 on Valentines Day to advance in the cup as well - a rare away victory.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd 2-0 Diósgyor

Key facts:
- Mezőkövesd have won their last four league games at home, conceding just one goal in that span.
- DVTK haven't lost to Mezőkövesd in their last five meetings home or away
- Roland Ugrai scored his third goal in DVTK’s last five competitive matches in their midweek win over Cegledi.

Vasas SC (3rd) vs Szombathelyi Haladás (7th)
at Szusza Ferenc Stadium

Vasas were the darlings of the league in the autumn as they took a page out of Leicester City’s 2015/16 campaign and kept up the momentum of a strong start to being joint top of the league in December. Manager Michael Oenning went about his business during the winter break in the right way, keeping the majority of the players who got him where they are and adding a pinch of scoring up top. The addition of Bálint Gaál was nothing short of masterful for Vasas. The striker scored 6 goals in his last eight matches for Haladás and will bring to bear that form against his former side as the season gets back underway. Mahir Saglik, who missed the last three games of the autumn season due to suspension, will be back and that will do nothing but help their cause. He had scored four goals in five matches before his red card against Fradi.
Haladás have not won away in six matches and have lost their last four on the road. The loss of Gaál will hurt, but Gezá Mészöly has brought in a bouquet of attacking options that will be fun to watch. U-17 Nigerian World Champion winger Funsho Bamgboye has been brought in from Qatar, and Karol Mészáros was plucked from Debrecen’s dust bin. Also Zsolt Gajdos was brought in from Puskás to replace Sjoerd Ars who left for Fortuna Sittard in the Dutch Second Tier.
Vasas should return with complete confidence that they have the winning mentality and all the right pieces to make a sustained title run as the season goes on.

Prediction: Vasas 3-1 Haladás

Key facts:
- Vasas have won just once in their last six league matches
- Haladás have score one goal in each of their last six games (Bálint Gaál scored five of them)
- Vasas have never lost to Haladás at home (5W, 3D)

*UPDATE - the Vasas - Haladás match has been officially called off due to a bad pitch. 

Videoton (1st) vs Újpest FC (5th)
at Pancho Arená, Felcsút

In our latest podcast I was initially very skeptical of Videoton’s business over the break. Allowing league-leading goal scorer Róbert Feczesin to leave for Korea seemed daft for a team that has shown they have what it takes to challenge all rivals for the title this season. However, upon closer inspection, 30 year old Feczesin had scored six of his eight goals by early September and has only scored twice since then. The tandem of Danko Lazovic and Marko Scepovic have combined for 12 goals to make up for Feczesin’s drop off since then. Also, Krisztián Géresi has chimed in with 5 more so they had an abundance of scoring potential and Feczesin might have just been an expensive surplus to requirements.
Újpest did nothing over the break (as if they had a choice) but they can be proud of a solid display that put them in a good position to challenge for a Europa League qualification spot. Nebojša Vignjevic saw his team end a run of six draws with two victories in their last four matches. Lilák are unbeaten in ten and much of it has been down to the energy and leadership of 21 year old midfielder Enis Bardhi. The Macedonia international has been superb again this season with 8 league goals. Bardhi continued to show that he’s still in fine form with another goal in Ùjpest’s 4-1 cup win over Zalaegerszegi last week.
Look for Lilák to make a game of it, but their propensity to let up late goals will hurt them in this one.

Prediction Videoton 2-1 Ùjpest

Key facts:
- Videoton had the best home goal differential of any NBI club in the fall (+17)
- Vidi have not lost to Ùjpest at home since 2009 (8W, 3D)
- Ùjpest haven’t been defeated in their last 9 away days

Debrecen (10th) vs Ferencváros (4th)
at Nagyerdei Stadion

It’s out with the old and in with the new for champions Ferencváros who made significant changes to a side that has not met expectations this term. Fradi manager Thomas Doll will be out of excuses if his current side can’t produce for him now. With the best signing of the window (in my opinion) Fradi brought in Hungarian international Laszlo Kleinheisler on loan from Werder Bremen. With Dominik Nagy, Adam Pinter, and Cristian Ramirez all leaving for greener pastures, the champions needed to make some moves and they definitely brought in some talent. István Bognár was added from DVTK and Germans Julian Koch and Janek Sternberg were also brought on board. The question will be whether Doll can bring this talent together and erase the four-point gap from the top of the table. At this point last season Ferencváros practically had the league sewn up. Oh what a difference a year makes!
It’s probably a good thing they’re starting against Debrecen who are winless in five and have only scored one goal during that run. Leonel Pontes has seen his team go from being four points clear of the relegation zone to teetering on the edge of danger as the spring season begins. Leading scorer Dávid Holman has the potential to make a difference - especially from set pieces - but they will end up trying to hold off what should be a motivated Fradi side who will want to erase any speculation that they don’t have what it takes to repeat as champions.
Ferencváros hasn’t defeated Debrecen in their last two attempts on the road, but that should change here.

Prediction: Debrecen 0-2 Ferencváros

Key facts:
- Debrecen have scored one goal in their last five league matches
- Ferencváros had the worst away goal differential in the top five NBI places (-2)
- 3 of Fradi’s last five goals have either been own goals or penalties

Thanks to Gergely Marosi (Nemzeti Sport) for keeping me up to date and accurate on all fronts.


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.


Hungarian football

PREVIEW: NBI - round 19

This is the final week before the top flight of Hungarian football goes dormant for six weeks. Teams like Mezőkövesd, Videoton, and Honvéd are hitting their stride and would love to see the campaign extend over the holidays. On the other hand, teams like Gyirmót, Ferencváros, and Debrecen are looking forward to the break to rest or regroup.
It’s been a thrilling season so far, and this final week should provide us with some twists and turns as NBI closes the curtain on act one.

Budapest Honvéd (3rd) vs Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE (5th)
at Bozsik József Stadion

This could be the match of the round. The two hottest teams in NBI will clash in the outskirts of the capital. Honvéd are unbeaten in their last five with four wins. They’ve defeated both ends of the table in consecutive weeks, showing that they’re just as comfortable playing when stakes are high as well as when complacency might become an issue. Marco Rossi must be pleased with not only the results but they way his side has been playing. Winger, Dániel Prosser, has scored in his last two games for Honvéd. With leading scorer Davide Lanzafame not even on the team sheet week last week, it’s been a positive sign that others have stepped up to carry the load in attack.
Attila Pintér’s Mezőkövesd are unbeaten in their last 7 with five victories, but their biggest came last week - a 2-0 victory over Ferencváros. Midfielder Stipe Bacelic-Grgic has 1 goal and 3 assists in last five for Mezőkövesd, and he leads the team in overall production with 3 goals and 5 assists on the season. In goal, wonder-boy Tomas Tujvel has kept 5 clean sheets in his last 7 appearances and has been as big a contributor as any player in terms of the club’s recent fortunes. Mezo defeated Honvéd 3-1 in their last meeting. In fact, Honvéd has lost to Mezőkövesd in all three of their competitive matches.

Prediction: Budapest Honvéd 2-2 Mezőkövesd-Zsóry

Diósgyori VTK (11th) vs Gyirmót FC Gyor (12th)
at Mezőkövesd Városi Stadion

Round 19 also features a true relegation six-pointer as Diósgyor will try to take advantage of Gyirmót’s plummeting form and leapfrog a few teams in the process. DVTK had won consecutive matches before being humbled 3-0 by Vasas at the weekend. Even so, both Zoltán Lipták and Roland Ugrai have 2 goals in their last three matches. István Bognár started for the first time in four matches last week as he looks almost 100% after recovering from a broken hand.
Gyirmót are on seven match losing run and haven't scored in two games. In fact, they’ve only scored twice in their last seven matches. It’s been a disastrous stretch for the newly-promoted side and they’ll be a team that will welcome the break to hopefully retool and regroup.
Gyirmót defeated Ferenc Horváth’s side back in September when Gyirmót were pinning up clean-sheets like busy mum on a clear spring day. However, in their last three matches they’ve conceded as many goals as they did in the entire months of August and September.  On top of that they haven’t scored a goal on the road since 24 September - their last victory.

Prediction: Diósgyor 2-0 Gyirmót

Paksi FC (9th) vs Vasas SC (1st)
at Fehérvári úti Stadion

Vasas travel to the “fortress” of Fehévári úti this week in an attempt to finish the autumn season on a high note. Paks, however, are still undefeated at home having only conceded 6 goals in 9 matches there this season. Only Haladás have as good a defensive record at home. Their win over Haladás at the weekend broke a run of five draws at Paksi Stadion
Mahir Saglik will serve last of his 3-match ban for Vasas but his absence didn’t seem to slow them down last week in a 3-0 demolition of DVTK. If anyone had doubt about them sustaining their good start to the season It think it’s safe to say that they are real title contenders now.
Michael Oenning’s side narrowly defeated Paksi at home back in early September but I think it will be a struggle for them to escape with anything more than a point under the shadow of the nuclear plant.

Prediction: Paksi 1-1 Vasas

Szombathelyi Haladás (6th) vs Videoton FC (2nd)
at Káposztás utcai Stadion, Sopron

Géza Mészöly has been without injured striker David Williams since mid-October. Since then Haladás have placed their offensive hopes on last season’s offensive juggernaut Bálint Gaál and he hasn’t disappointed. Gaál has scored 4 goals in last five matches and six in 13 so far this season. Last season he amassed 7 goals in 26 appearances so the 25 year-old looks on course for a breakout year.
Haladás have scored one goal in each of the last five. They have one win in their last six, but they’re a team that can show up or check out depending on the day. This was illustrated best when they lost 1-0 at home to Gyirmót earlier this season and then turned around and beat Fradi 2-0 the next week.
Videoton come into this game on the back of consecutive wins for the first time since mid-September. They’re the only team in the league averaging over 2 goals scored per game.
They’ve won 3 of their last four with all three victories being clean sheets. I still can’t get over how good this team is offensively. Lazovic and Scepovic were quieted in terms of production last week, but still looked just as dangerous. Vidi’s defense has solidified even more throughout the course of the fall season as well.

Prediction: Haladás 1-2 Videoton

Újpest FC (7th) vs Debreceni VSC (8th)
at Széktói Stadion, Kecskemét

One of the things that Újpest manager Nebojša Vignjevic can be proud of is that his team can score goals consistently. Lilák have only been held off the score sheet just twice all season (both times at home, incredibly). Currently they’re unbeaten in 9 matches (8 of those being draws) and they have not been held without a goal in 11 consecutive games. Attacking midfielder Enis Bardhi has been a joy to watch this season. The diminutive Macedonian has 7 goals and 5 assists in NBI and started for his country against Spain this fall. He’s been a huge offensive catalyst in a team that has failed to close out games at the back end. Without the ability to add to their squad until the summer they will simply have to score more goals to stay competitive.
Enter Debrecen, who have scored just 1 goal in their last four matches and haven’t scored in their last two. This could be just what Vignjevic’s boys need heading into the break. However, Leonel Pontes’ side have scored 7 goals in their last 5 away games. They did beat Újpest earlier this season 2-1 at home, but I can’t see them repeating that same feat in Kecskemét.  Barnburner anyone?

Prediction: Újpest 3-2 Debrecen

Ferencvárosi TC (4th) vs MTK Budapest (10th)
at Groupama Aréna

Ferencváros manager Thomas Doll will be back in the technical area for his team after serving a two-match ban. Left back Cristian Ramirez will be serving his final game of a three-match suspension. With just one win in their last four Fradi really need a win to close out the first half of the season. They are five points adrift of the top spot and could be as much as 8 if they can’t turn things around. Their attack looked unfocused, frantic (at times), and increasingly desperate as they saw the game slipping away against Mezőkövesd last week. It will be a boost for them to return home where only Videoton match them in offensive production with 24 goals
MTK are still the only team without a victory on the road this season. They’ve only scored four goals in 9 away games and leading scorer Sándor Torghelle is looking increasingly frustrated and risks becoming a non-factor. Other than Torghelle, only right back Patrik Poór has scored more than once this season for Vaszilisz Teodoru’s side.
Fradi will be out for blood in this one. They lost in the waning moments against 10-man MTK earlier this season and they’ll want to make amends for that.

Prediction: Ferencvaros 3-1 MTK Budapest

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NBI round 18

NBI - round 18 review

This week had some memorable moments. Honvéd's Donát Zsótér showed his skill and determination with an incredible individual effort that illustrated Kispest's recent form. Dénes Szakály scored on a “no-look” lob for Paksi with the audacity of Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina, and Diósgyor goalkeeper Ivan Rados made a stunning, point blank reaction save to keep Vasas at bay until halftime. All this and more happened in NBI round 18 - read on.

Paks ‘goal-fest’ downs Haladás

Paksi FC 2-1 Szombathelyi Haladás
my prediction: Paksi 1-1 Haladás

Not since a 2-1 win over Diósgyor in mid-August have we seen this level of offensive production in Paks! All kidding aside, Paksi remained the only team that’s still undefeated at home this season with an impressive 2-1 win over visiting Haladás. The hosts struck first after an incisive run into the area from Dénes Szakály that drew a dubious trip from defender Stef Wils and Péter Solymosi didn’t hesitate to point to the spot. Tamás Koltai sent Márton Gyurján the other way and buried his penalty to give Paks the lead.
Later in the first half Bálint Gaál scored his fifth goal in seven games for Haladás as he chipped an accurate free kick beyond the reach of the poorly placed Szabolcs Kemenes and the sides were level - poor goalkeeping from the Paksi custodian.
Early in the second half, a great backheel from Janos Hahn set up Dávid Kulcsár inside the box but his drilled shot was expertly parried over by the alert Gyurján.
Ten minutes later it was the visitors who almost got a break when Barnabás Rácz pulled down a long ball from Peter Halmosi and played the ball to Sjoerd Ards in behind the defense. He looked a shade offside and his half-hearted attempt to score might have revealed his guilt, but play resumed. Ards collected his own rebound and, without an opening, he set up Rácz who followed him into the box but the shot went well over.
Haladás were made to rue that miss when the hosts’ winner came a minute later. Reminiscent of Zlatan’s goal against Everton on Sunday, Kristóf Papp looped a ball into the left channel and under heavy pressure from János Hegedus, Szakály hit an impossible lob that caught Gyurján by surprise as he watched it arc over his shoulder and bounce into the back of the net. Winner, maximum points, and out of the relegation zone.

Tujvel, Mező snuff out Fradi

Mezőkövesd Zsóry SE 2-0 Ferencváros TC
my prediction: Mezokovesd 1-1 Ferencváros

A dour Thomas Doll looked on from the stands as his expensively-built side was handed their fifth defeat of the season. Ferencváros looked anything but confident as they chopped and changed at half time looking for a rhythm that never came.
Mező boss Attila Pintér led the club to their first ever victory over Ferencváros, but it wasn’t an easy win. Early pressure from the champions led to some nervy moments for the hosts but Fradi were characteristically un-clinical in front of goal. Next it was Mezőkövesd who squandered a gilt-edged chance when Stipe Bacelic-Grgic played an angled pass that set Martin Streštik free on goal but he slowed and eventually side-footed embarrassingly wide.
Mező did get one before then break, however, as the hard-working Bacelic-Grgic played a useful ball in for Gábor Molnár who took advantage of shoddy defending and rolled the ball in side the near post for the lead.
Mezőkövesd goalkeeper Tomas Tujvel didn’t have much to do in terms of making a save in the first half, and early opportunities in the second half were off target by Fradi. He only made two saves all game but they were instrumental in getting his fifth clean sheet in seven matches.
A free kick by Streštik found the back of the net on 58 minutes, but it was indirect and rightfully ruled out.
Ferencváros keeper Dénes Dibusz gave his side a chance as he came off his line to make a great block on Tarmo Kink who had darted past more woeful defending.
Things went from bad to worse for Fradi when Mezőkövesd substitute Branko Pauljevic stripped Emir Dilaver at midfield and surged unhindered on goal. Defender Dominik Nagy dove bravely in front of the shot but the ball his his arm inside the box and Zsolt Szabó was quick point to the spot and then book Nagy for the infraction. Bacelic-Grgic cooly slotted his spot kick down the middle as Dibusz dove to his right.
Could this be the final nail in the coffin for Doll? A defeat at home to MTK could be the final straw in what can only be seen as a disappointing first half of the season by the champions.
For Attila Pintér’s Mezőkövesd, they’ve risen from the relegation zone in late September to a season-high fifth place.

Kispest run rampant over lifeless Gyirmót

Gyirmót FC Gyor 0-4 Budapest Honvéd
my prediction: Gyirmót 0-2 Honvéd

Gyirmót fell to their seventh consecutive defeat as Honvéd took advantage of their poor form with a comprehensive win in Gyor. Nothing exemplified Gyirmót’s dearth in attack than Csanád Novák’s early breakaway that ended as he was too nonchalant with his finish and the Honvéd defense caught up to him and cleared the ball from danger.
The visitors starting to come into the game, and a dangerous, right wing cross from Patrick Ikenne-King was just out of an unmarked Márton Eppel’s reach inside the six-yard box. The opener didn’t come until the second half and it was a sweet pass from Márk Koszta to Dániel Prosser who lashed home from a tight angle. 1-0 Kispest.
Gyirmót’s defending broke down ten minutes later as Prosser and Koszta combined to set up Dániel Gazdag who chipped home from close range. 2-0.
The avalanche had begun and Honvéd were well on their way. Ivan Lovric and Djordje Kamber combined headers on a 78th minute corner kick and it was Kamber's who scored Honvéd’s third goal with a close range nod.
Then, in one of the most bizarre sequences of the game, Donát Zsótér displayed his tenacity with an amazing individual effort to play his way out of four defenders before sending Gazdag through but his shot was kicked onto the post by the Gyrmót keeper. The rebound came back to Dusan Vasiljevic who set up Patrik Hidi who neatly curled a left footed shot back across the goal and inside the far post.
Gyirmót are now rooted to the bottom of the table, six points from safety, while Honvéd kept pace with Vasas at the other end of the table.

Ujpest extend unbeaten run to 9

MTK Budapest 1-1 Újpest FC
my prediction: MTK Budapest 2-2 Újpest

It’s groundhog day for Újpest - in reference to the Bill Murray film where he wakes up every day and he relives the same day over and over again. Nebojsa Vignjevic must know what that’s like as his club played to their 8th draw in 9 matches. It’s becoming an epidemic and it could cost them a spot in Europe if they can’t figure out how to keep a lead.
Lilák started brightly, attacking MTK from the opening whistle. A nifty move by Nemanja Andric allowed him space to cross into the box for Enis Bardhi who could only poke the ball into the grateful arms of Danijel Petkovic. Bardhi made the breakthrough on the quarter hour, though, when he drifted away from a defender and ran onto Balázs Balogh’s lob into the area - a quick touch and it was 1-0.
Wave after wave of attack came from Újpest as the first half drew to a close, and Andric’s lovely trick to lose a defender led to a shot that beat Petkovic but came back off the far post - unlucky.
The equalizer for MTK came in the opening stages of the second half. József Kanta delivered a tantalizing corner that the Újpest defense was unable to deal with and Patrik Poór bundled home from close range.
MTK could have taken the lead a few minutes later when more sloppy defending allowed Dániel Gera to break free on a counter attack, but he fired over the bar from distance when it seemed easier to score.
Both sides had their chances in injury time but at that point fate had taken over. It was a disappointing draw for both sides who each could argue they deserved more.

Order restored at Vasas

Vasas SC 3-0 Diósgyori VTK
my prediction: Vasas 2-1 Diósgyor

The league leaders were without a win in their last four and feeling the heat from the chasing pack, while Diósgyor were enjoying a two-match run of victories and coming to Budapest with their tails up. However, Vasas were the ones that grabbed the game from the start and wouldn’t let go. DVTK were hemmed in their own half while the hosts penetrated their defense and had a number of narrow misses. The visitors almost took the lead against the run of play, however, as Diego Vela carved his way into space and worked himself a great opportunity but his shot was deflected and looped over the bar from close range. The best save of the game (if not the round) came just before the interval when a left wing cross from Szilveszter Hangya found Evgen Pavlov whose bullet header was expertly turned aside by Ivan Rados.
Everything changed just before the hour, though, when Vasas’ Benedek Murka attempted a hopeful shot from outside the area that got tangled in the feet of DVTK left back Milán Németh who sent the ball into his own goal. Vasas doubled their lead when a perfectly weighted free kick found Tamás Vaskó ghosting in at the far post where he swept it home for two-nil.
The hosts were in cruise control, and more good work by the Vasas attack forced Rados into another save to deny Martin Ádám’s header on 67 minutes.
The icing on the cake came on 75 minutes when a lovely one-two between Botond Király and Zsombor Berecz allowed the latter to fire past a stunned Rados from close range. It was thoroughly-deserved win by the league leaders who now look set to enter the winter break at the top.

Hadzic strike keeps pressure on leaders

Debreceni VSC 0-1 Videoton FC
my prediction: Debrecen 1-3 Videoton

Videoton got an important goal from Anel Hadzic to keep in step with Vasas who had already won earlier in the day. The visitors were dominant and could have won by a much larger margin but essentially couldn't find any breathing room until the end.
Vidi’s Danko Lazovic had his penalty appeals ignored after going down in the box from a challenge from behind. At the other end it was David Holman who connected with a chip into the area and touched the ball through the legs of Ádám Kovásik, but the keeper was able to turn acrobatically and tip the ball behind with Holman lurking.
In the second half, Debrecen keeper István Verpecz kept out a scorching drive from Lazovic with his face - quite impressive. I had to watch that one a few times.
Hadzic’s goal came just after the hour when he was first to a poor clearance and headed the ball into space before lashing his close range shot past Verpecz into the roof of the net.
It was Videoton’s first away win in over two months and it keeps them just a point off the pace heading in round 19.

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PREVIEW - NBI Round 18

Ladies and gentleman, there are only two match days remaining before the winter break and this week’s NBI Round 18 preview will give you the scoop on what to watch for as each team looks to finish out the year on a high note.

After the dust settled last Saturday the title race was as tight as it’s been since 21 September when the top five teams were separated by just two points and Vasas had a slim, one-point lead at the top. Márton Eppel’s late winner for Honvéd was a key moment as it was the string that pulled everyone together.

The following tables show the ebb and flow of Vasas' lead which started after round 5 and reached its zenith in late October before coming back down to earth on Saturday.

21 September G Pts GD
Vasas SC 10 19 5
Ferencváros 10 18 8
Szombathelyi Haladás 10 18 3
Videoton FC 10 17 11
22 October G Pts GD
Vasas SC 13 28 11
Videoton FC 13 23 14
Ferencváros 13 22 7
Szombathelyi Haladás 13 21 1
26 November G Pts GD
Vasas SC 17 31 10
Videoton FC 17 30 19
Ferencváros 17 29 9
Budapest Honvéd 17 28 10

The peloton has now caught the breakaway pack and it will be an exciting finish to end the first half of the season.

Ten of the twelve team played in the Magyar Kupa this week with MTK, Haladás and Videoton joining Paksi and Debrecen as eliminated from the competition.  It will be interesting to see how the midweek games affect Saturday's contests.

Berg’s offense catching fire

Debreceni VSC (8th) vs Videoton FC (2nd)
at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen

Videoton dominated MTK last week. If they hadn’t been as wasteful as they were they could have won by 3 or 4 to nil, but at times they were happy to cut through the opposition defense without providing the finish. There’s a cocky arrogance in the side that has shown both the good and the bad recently. For instance, watching Marko Scepovic and Krisztián Géresi stand and watch the opposition goalkeeper hash a save in his six-yard box when they should have been on top of the rebound was just brutal last week. They watched on as if they thought the goal would happen on its own. In contrast, the second half was brilliant. The clairvoyance between Scepovic and Danko Lazovic was palpable and created some entertaining football - including two very well-taken goals. Hopefully, for Henning Berg’s sake, the latter will overcome the former as they look to find consistency and consecutive victories for the first time since September. They’ve come close, but they haven’t won away from home since a 2-1 win over Honvéd on 24 September.

Leonel Pontes must be scratching his head in wonder at how his side managed to be sent packing without a point in Sopron last week. Debrecen had their chances with Dávid Holman and Robert Vittek the main culprits in term of profligacy. Pontes has only had two home games in the league in the last two months and hasn’t won in front of home support since early September. They’ve also been held goalless three times at home this season. Debrecen needed a late equalizer against MTK in round 16 and were held without a goal in the matches preceding and following that match meaning they’ve scored once in their last three. They’ll need something magical against Videoton to take anything from this one.

Prediction: Debrecen 1-3 Videoton - Vidi break Debrecen on the road.

Horváth’s Diósgyor surging

Vasas SC (1st) vs Diósgyori VTK (10th)
at Bozsik József Stadion, Budapest

Ferenc Horváth takes his side’s resurgence show back on the road after two “home” victories. Diósgyor have yet to officially win away from home this season despite traveling to neutral venues for their victories against Haladás and Paksi in recent weeks. This week’s test against league leaders Vasas will be a true test for Horváth’s squad who are returning to health and form all at once. They will be without skipper Ákos Elek and defender Zoltán Lipták who is a team co-leader in goals scored with four (2 in his last two games). Attacking midfielder István Bognár has come off the bench in the last two games with a broken hand but it’s possible that he might get his first start since round 14.
Super-sub Roland Ugrai scored an injury-time winner a fortnight ago and followed up his own missed penalty to score again in injury time on Saturday giving him two goals in his last 25 minutes played.

Despite leading the league and going unbeaten in their previous six matches, Vasas fell to Honvéd leaving them with just three points in their last four. The leaders missed the attacking threat of striker Mahir Saglik who served his first of a three-match ban on Saturday. Michael Oenning may need to rely upon Martin Ádám a bit more this game. He does lead the club with 6 goals and he last scored against MTK Budapest which was the last time Vasas won at home.

Prediction: Vasas SC 2-1 Diósgyor

Gyirmót looking to end run of futility

Gyirmót FC Gyor (12th) vs Budapest Honvéd (4th)
at Alcufer Stadion, Gyor

István Urbányi needs a win as his side are spinning out of control. Six consecutive defeats have seen Gyirmót fall from 9th and land at the bottom of the table with a crash. Their lack of offensive production hasn’t been a surprise. After scoring a season high 2 goals in their opening match this season they haven’t scored more than one goal in any game since. What helped them earlier this season was a run of five clean sheets where they picked up 11 of their 13 points. Since then they have shipped an average of 2 goals per game during their current run of miserable form.

Honvéd marked their intentions with a late victory over Vasas last week. They are four matches without defeat, winning three in that span. Red-hot goal scorer Davide Lanzafame seems to have cooled down over the last couple of weeks, but it was encouraging for Marco Rossi to see Márton Eppel get back on the score sheet - his first since scoring five in his first five matches this season.
Rossi gets Endre Botka back from suspension this week which will be a boost for his backline. Gyirmót shouldn’t threaten much, though, as they’ve scored just four goals in 8 home games.

Prediction: Gyirmót 0-2 Budapest Honvéd

Újpest put 8-match unbeaten run on the line

MTK Budapest (9th) vs Újpest FC (7th)
at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest

Újpest get back on the road this week, and that’s a good thing. Their last two victories have come on the road with their most recent against lowly Gyirmót two weeks ago. Their previous win was back in mid-August. This is a problem for Nebojša Vignjevic who has seen his team squander valuable points this season. They must improve defensively as their lack of concentration has turned victories into draws during their bittersweet eight-match unbeaten run. Lilák were without Souleymane Diarra who was banned after collecting five yellow cards but he’s likely to make a return in Saturday’s derby.  Also, Kylian Hazard looks to be recovering well from his knee injury and could return for Újpest in February.

MTK return home to try and end a four-match run without a victory after being outclassed against Videoton last week. Sándor Torghelle had returned from suspension against Vidi but he was isolated and rendered ineffective for most of the game. He’s played much better at home and should be relishing the chance to take advantage of Újpest’s porous defense. These two clubs battled to a goalless draw in their first meeting of the season back in late August but I don’t see a similar result on the cards. Even though they've scored more than one goal only once in their last nine matches they always seem to keep things close - especially at home where they’re unbeaten in their last five.

Prediction: MTK Budapest 2-2 Újpest FC - Same, same, same.

Tujvel one to watch in Fradi clash

Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE (6th) vs Ferencváros (3rd)
at Városi Stadion, Mezőkövesd

I’m really liking Mezőkövesd these days. They have put up a very respectable run of six matches unbeaten with four victories. Goalkeeper Tomas Tujvel has been nothing short of amazing, conceding just twice six matches and last week’s goal was a penalty. His confidence looks to be growing and he can enter this match with knowledge of his foe as he helped Mezo to a 2-2 draw at Groupama in August. They don’t have much going forward but Gábor Molnár looked lively against Újpest on Saturday. New striker Ulysse Diallo didn’t play last week but it will be interesting to see if he factors in this one. Attila Pintér’s squad is undefeated in their last three at home and another result against the champions would be massive for a side that was promoted last season from NBII.

Fradi did what they needed to do last week against Gyirmót, but it was far from the impressive, comprehensive victory that they hoped for. Both of their goals were unconventional as they labored to pick apart a team that they clearly outclassed in terms of talent. Yes, they picked up their first home clean sheet of the season, but is that something to celebrate against a team that have scored 8 goals all season?
At the other end, they don’t look like a team that is hitting on all cylinders. Own goals and penalties still get the desired result at the end of the day, but relying upon them isn’t a good strategy. Marco Djuricin has looked positive recently, scoring in each of his last two games, but Dániel Böde looks an imposter to his form earlier in the season. They're in need of some inspiration if they’re to take control of the league as expected.

Prediction: Mezőkövesd-Zsóry SE 1-1 Ferencváros - solid defending will frustrate Fradi again.

Haladás dive into the void in search of points

Paksi FC (11th) vs Szombathelyi Haladás (5th)
at Fehérvári úti Stadion, Paks

Paksi were dismantled by a superior Diósgyor last week, falling to defeat for just the second time in their last eight. It was the first time they’d been held off the score sheet since a late September goalless draw against MTK in Budapest. Aurél Csertoi’s squad will be back at home this week where they are still unbeaten. They’ve only conceded 5 goals this season at Fehérvári úti Stadion but, maybe just as importantly, they’ve only scored six. Paks have only been defeated in consecutive weeks just once this season (both were away matches, of course). Their lack of any real attacking threat is a worry for Paksi supporters but they’ve managed to stay within touching distance of safety. They’re just a point adrift of both DVTK and MTK who both have difficult matches this week as well. János Hahn has looked energized in recent matches yet has nothing to show for his industry in the last couple of games.

Haladás broke their recent run of bad results last week with a narrow 1-0 victory over Debrecen. It was a fortunate win for them as they seemed outplayed for long stretches, and their goal arrived against the run of play. Young goalkeeper Márton Gyurján looked solid in his debut for Hali with some great saves including an impressive stop on a Dávid Holman breakaway.
Bálint Gaál was held off the score sheet for the first time in four games despite having a couple of good opportunities. Also, defensive midfielder Bence Iszlai will miss Saturday’s contest for accumulating 5 yellow cards. Iszlai’s absence will leave a gaping hole in midfield as he’s not missed a single minute of action in the league this season.

Prediction: Paksi FC 1-1 Haladás - I can’t see either side taking too many risks in this one.

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NBI round 17 review

NBI - round 17 review (part two)

Okay, as promised here's the second part of the NBI Round 17 review. You can read part one here.  Enjoy!

Hali return to winning ways

Szombathelyi Haladás 1-0 Debreceni VSC
my prediction: Haladás 2-1 Debrecen

Haladás and Debrecen played an exciting contest in which the points should have been shared to be fair. The visitors dominated the early stages but didn’t really cause any concern until the 18th minute. Ivan Bobko was left unmarked on the left side of the box, but he decided to slip a teasing ball ahead of Robert Vittek who was unable to reach it with the goal at his mercy. Ten minutes later Dávid Holman scampered down the right but his tight-angled shot was denied by a fine save from goalkeeper Márton Gyurján who was making his debut for Haladás. More pressure resulted in Ioan Filip getting a free header for Debrecen before the half but he directed it well over.
These were all chances the visitors would kick themselves for missing as Hali went ahead early in the second half. A floating Barnabás Rácz corner somehow eluded the rising combatants inside the box and was directed home with a stooping header from Sjoerd Ards. Branislav Danilovic was rooted to spot - no chance.
Gyurján came up big for Haladás as he stopped Holman again - this time on a breakaway in the 65th minute. Later Zsolt Horváth was adjudged to have timed his run perfectly to be sent in behind the protesting Hali defense. His shot beat Gyurján but hit the post and trickled across the goalmouth before being cleared.
More action, this time at the other end as Peter Halmosi played a clever chip ahead of Bálint Gaál who unleashed a right-footed shot that fizzed past the far post five minutes from time.
Another flurry of action in the Haladás area ended without any profit and the hosts held out for the points.

Pauljevic earns Mező a point

Újpest FC 1-1 Mezőkövesd-Zsory SE
my prediction: Újpest 2-1 Mezőkövesd

Újpest were hoping to chalk up another win after getting their first victory since mid-August last week, but their defense let them down in the second half as another lead slipped from their grasp.
The first half was marked by lethargy and half-chances. The only real moment of excitement was a headed free kick that found the back of the net for Mezőkövesd but it was ruled out (rightly) by the assistant referee whose flag was already up. The cheeky Mező skipper András Vági waved his finger at the officials but replays showed he was clearly offside. Then, on 36 minutes, Enis Bardhi tried an ambitious free kick from 40 yards that didn’t miss by much.
In the opening stages of the second half, Bardhi went up for a headed cross in the area but was dragged to the floor by Dávid Hudák and a penalty was given by Mr. Andó-Szabó. Nemanja Andric sent goalkeeper Tomas Tujvel the wrong way and buried the penalty to give the hosts the lead. But, like in so many other matches this season, Újpest couldn’t hold on. In fact, it took just a few minutes for their defense to break down. A long ball was played down the left channel that Gábor Molnár ran onto leaving a trail of bewildered defenders in his wake. As Dávid Banai came off his line to challenge him Molnár touched the ball to his right where an ecstatic Branko Pauljevic almost hashed the opportunity but he found the roof of the net from six yards.
Andric had a gilt-edged chance to put Lilák back in front later in the half when Bálazs Balogh fed him a slide-rule pass into the area. The Serbian fired past Tujvel but off the post. Andric stood there in disbelief, mirroring the home support who were left frustrated once again.

Lazovic double puts Vidi on the cusp

Videoton 2-0 MTK Budapest
my prediction: Videoton 4-1 MTK Budapest

In the late game at the glorious Pancho Aréna, aglow with a bright green pitch and the majestic orange splayed colonnades that set a unique backdrop, Videoton and their usual 1,400 or so supporters played host to MTK. Vidi had the better chances out of the gates and a flowing move between Danko Lazovik and Marko Scepovic almost created the opener. Lazovik played Scepovic deep down the right and ran through the middle to pounce on the return pass across the the top of the area and smashed it on goal. The keeper spilled the save but Scepovic and Krisztián Géresi never followed the shot and the chance was lost. Miserable.
Then, on the half hour, Lazovik struck a sweet free kick that came of the bar and fell to Roland Juhász who headed over from 8 yards out. Unforgivable.
Minute 64 was the next missed opportunity by the hosts as Scepovic chased another long ball down the right flank before setting up Kristian Geresi at the top of the area to screw his shot wide of the far post. Head in hands.
The opener came with an amusing prelude as MTK’s Sándor Torghelle scrambled to control a loose ball at midfield before being knocked flat on his back side by Stopira. What followed was a great team move. The ball was moved out to István Kovacs who played a pinpoint ball over the top to the outside of Scepovic’s right boot that set up Lazovic with a scorching volley - pandemonium.
Scepovic was at it again in the final moments as he stripped Dragan Vukmir and fed Lazovic with a sweet pass into space. Lazovic dribbled and darted in and around Ádám Vass before rifling a shot that went through the hands of the keeper and in. Henning Berg’s side are now just a point off the pace. Wow, what a league! Three points separate the top four sides after 17 games.

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