NB1 – Round 21 review

Hungarian football is funny. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, something comes along and shakes everything up.” – Doe Zantamata (paraphrased).

Actually, Doe wasn’t speaking about NB1 but she could have been after a chaotic round 21 in the league. It was a veritable maelstrom of results that defied the odds and, in some cases, defied logic. Find out who was smiling, who was howling, and which team did the one thing they haven’t done all season long.

Budapest Honvéd 1-0 Debrecen

My prediction: Budapest 2-0 Debrecen

Let’s start with the one game I got somewhat right. Honvéd left it late but eventually solved Debrecen with a late goal to extend their unbeaten run to 8 games. Márton Eppel was the late-game hero for a second consecutive week, beating red-hot Debrecen goalkeeper Branislav Danilovic five minutes from time.
Eppel almost helped Kispest in front in the first minute with a slick layoff to Zsolt Laczkó running behind on the left but the chance went begging. There were calls for a penalty when Patrick Ikenne-King’s cross struck the arm of Debrecen defender Norbert Mészáros in the area on 10 minutes but appeals fell on deaf ears.
More promising stuff came on 19 minutes when Laczkó lifted a magnificent far-post cross to Davide Lanzafame who volleyed on target forcing Danilovic into action for the first time. The resulting corner was misjudged by Danilovic, glanced off of Laczkó and skipped across the goal with no Honvéd player at the back post to knock it in – a wasted opportunity.
Honved keeper David Gróf kept the game level a few minutes later when he punched away a dangerous inswinging corner. At the other end it was Eppel volleying a Lanzafame cross on frame but his shot was deflected away by Attila Osváth.
It was one-way traffic for long stretches with good build-up play but Rossi’s men just couldn’t break through. Eppel put Ikenne-King behind the defense and into the area on 66 minutes but his low, hard shot skimmed the outside of Danilovic’s right-hand post. Next, it was Eppel who found himself with plenty of space inside the six yard box but could only volley right at Danilovic who beat the ball away – almost more in self-defense, but it was a quality save nonetheless.
Then, just when it seemed the well had run dry, another deliciously long cross from Kadima Kabangu was chested down by Eppel who found himself in almost the exact same position as his previous chance, but this time he hammered home from close range to the delight of the crowd. It was a richly deserved goal and put Kispest atop the table by themselves for the first time this season.

Diósgyor 2-3 MTK Budapest

My prediction: Diósgyor 1-0 MTK Budapest

After ten away games without a win, MTK finally broke their duck and grabbed their first road victory of the season; a 3-2 win over Diósgyor who dropped their second game in eight days at Városi Stadium and dipped into the relegation zone.
MTK went ahead only six minutes in when Dániel Gera drove inside the area, battled past one defender and lashed home inside the near post from 13 yards with DVTK keeper Botond Antal rooted to the spot. New-signing Yuri Kolomoets tried to mirror Gera’s feat as he drove inside the box 7 minutes later but his low drive skimmed harmlessly past Antal’s far post.
The hosts were level against the run of play less than a minute later when István Fülöp’s looping free kick descended into the area. A host of players rose to contend for the ball but it was MTK forward, Myke, who headed it into his own net.
Myke tried to make amends seconds after the restart as he raced clear down the left flank, but his swerving shot was expertly turned aside by the diving Antal. There were more heroics from Antal as he made an amazing double save – first on a low drive from Dániel Vadnai, and then on the follow up from from Ákos Baki whose shot he held.
Zoltán Lipták headed just wide off a corner for Diósgyor just before another Fülöp free kick required a diving save from MTK keeper Danijel Petkovic. The hosts did go ahead before the break, however, as a determined Diego Vela shrugged off a defender and darted into the area before sending over a teasing ball across the goal. Fülöp was first to the ball and he steered his header beyond Petkovic’s efforts to put Diósgyor on top.
In the second half, MTK came out with a purpose and a free kick from captain József Kanta flashed just wide of Antal’s far post. Minutes later it was Kanta again as he chipped a lovely ball into the area for Kolomoets who volleyed neatly inside the far upper corner to level the score. It was a sensational goal to open the Ukrainian’s account.
As great as the equalizer was, József Kanta wasn’t content with a point and his 73rd minute free kick fooled Antal and dipped under the bar for the winner. It polished off a man-of-the-match performance for the MTK skipper who has played every minute of every league match for MTK so far.

Paks 5-0 Mezőkövesd

My prediction: Paks 1-1 Mezőkövesd

What can I say about this one? Wow! Paks have been a force at home this season but to put up five goals at home where they hadn’t scored more than two all season was quite impressive. Five different goal scorers handed Mezőkövesd their worst defeat since a 4-0 hammering by Vasas in late September.
Paks’ highest scoring output this season was against Mezőkövesd earlier this season in a 3-1 victory on the road, so it would stand to reason that they’d improve upon that at home, right?
Things might have turned out differently if Stipe Bacelic-Grgic would have converted a gilt-edged opportunity in the opening minutes. He was played onside behind the Paks defense but his shot was deflected away by the alert Péter Molnár who came quickly off his line to make the save.
I’ve questioned the use of Mezőkövesd keeper Dávid Dombó in the past and an early save off a Lajos Bertus free kick made him look like the right choice in this one, but the party hadn’t started for the hosts just yet.
The first goal came off of János Szabó’s head from a Bertus corner in the 19th minute. Dombó didn’t come for the ball and Szabó powered it home from right on the goal line. Seven minutes later it was 2-0 when a free kick came back off of Dombó’s far post to Zsolt Gévay who volleyed home from short range. The visitors looked at sea without any direction or concentration.
More poor defending had the hosts up by 3 just after the half hour. A lazy ball down the right from Richárd Vernes was collected by Dávid Kulcsár who struck a ferocious drive that was deflected by Dombó but the power of the shot carried it into the back of the net.
It was 4-0 before the break as another beautiful corner from Bertus found Kristóf Papp rising highest at the far post and his uncontested header beat Dombó once again.
To be fair, Dombó made a superb save to deny Paks’ leading scorer János Hahn his sixth of the season in the second half. But the day belonged to the hosts who polished off their dominant performance with a fifth goal four minutes from time. László Bartha chested down a cross from none other than Lajos Bertus, strolled uncontested through the box before coolly slotting inside the near post. Paks remain the only undefeated team at home this season and there was nothing from this performance that would suggest that ending anytime soon.

Haladás 0-2 Újpest

My prediction: Haladás 1-1 Újpest

Újpest rebounded from last week’s humiliating 5-1 defeat at the hands of Videoton to put Haladás away with a clinical 2-0 result in Sopron. Mihailo Perovic scored his second goal in as many games for Lilák, and young right back Kristóf Szűcs opened his account with an injury time goal to seal the victory. For Hali it was their third consecutive match without a win and the first time they’d been held without scoring since October.
Playing without Enis Bardhi (injured) and Souleymane Diarra (suspended), Újpest started in similar fashion to last week’s game with Perovic grabbing an early goal. The Montenegrin striker ran onto a Balázs Balogh pass, cut inside a defender and back out before snapping a right-footed shot into the roof of the net on 13 minutes.
Újpest manager Nebojša Vignjevic showed his faith in his defense as he started the game with the same back line that were hammered against Videoton.
The host’s best chance to equalize came just after the half hour when an Ezequiel Calvente free kick was met by Bence Iszlai at the back post, but his header was just wide. Újpest weren’t far behind with their next chance as some slick passing through the middle of the park set Nemanja Andric free down the left side. The Serbian winger tricked his way past a defender and shot from close range, but Gábor Király was positioned well in his goal and it glanced off his shoulder and over the bar.
Vignjevic’s team looked dominant for stretches, but there were echoes of their previous defensive liabilities like playing too high or making poor passing decisions across the back four. Haladás did have chances to get back into this one but just couldn’t finish. The biggest culprit for Hali on the day was David Williams who recently returned from injury. The Australian forward wears the mantle of replacing the recently-departed Balint Gaál but missed a few chances that could have gotten the hosts back in the game – the most obvious was hashing a cut back pass that set him up inside the area. He swung and missed the pass ending up unceremoniously on his backside.
The gloss for the visitors came in injury time when Andric played the ball into the left corner, evaded two defenders before crossing into the box. The ball fell for substitute Szűcs who drove a right-footed bullet beyond the despairing dive of Király and inside the far post.

Vasas 1-1 Gyirmót

My prediction: Vasas 3-0 Gyirmót

In another surprising result, Vasas were held by bottom side Gyirmót who displayed another confident performance this week to escape with an unlikely point.
This was Vasas’ first game after the break as they missed last week’s match due to a poor pitch. It seemed that they shook off the rust as they kept possession and attacked the left flank again and again in the early stages, but their finishes were either tame or off target.
Gyirmót broke the deadlock against the run of play. A long ball over the top by Ádám Simon was run down by Patrik Vass who pulled the ball back into the centre of the penalty area. Csanád Novak ran through, unmarked, and coolly side-footed his first of the season past Gergely Nagy for the lead. It was Gyirmót’s first away goal since late September and just their third in their last 10 matches overall.
Vasas went back to their possession domination after going down but it did them little good. Zsombor Berecz fired another long range drive straight into the arms of Zsolt Sebok, and Balint Gaál got his first sight of goal for his new club but drove his left-footed effort just wide of the far post before the break. Berecz continued getting into good shooting positions but was wasteful with his chances.
Mahir Saglik was lucky to have a cross evade the crowd and reach him inside the area but his header didn’t connect well and the ball flew well over from about 10 yards.
When Vasas finally broke through on 80 minutes it was well-deserved but they should have had even more. Mohamed Remeli collected a pass from Szilveszter Hangya and spun off his defender before blasting a shot on goal. Sebok made the initial save, Zsolt Korcsmár tried to bury the rebound but his shot was blocked. The Gyirmót defense couldn’t clear the ball and it fell for Botond Király who stroked it home for his first of the season.
It was ‘game-on’ for Vasas who looked like they would find a way to win this one, but all of their efforts fell just short as the visitors held on.

Ferencváros 0-0 Videoton

My prediction: Ferencváros 3-2 Videoton

Videoton earned an important point with some solid defending and a lucky bounce to extend their unbeaten run to five games. With so much riding on this result and with two teams that carry so much attacking firepower, this should have been one for the ages. Instead, it seemed to lack flow and creativity and essentially succumbed to a more brutish route than we might have expected from these teams.
The best chances came early in the first half when a curling free kick from Fradi’s Tamás Hajnal skimmed off the back of Videoton captain Roland Juhász and hit Oliver Hüsing who deflected the ball against the far post. Close call for Vidi.
Less than ten minutes later a Hajnal corner was headed by Hüsing to Leandro who controlled the ball with his back to the goal, turned, and fired right at Ádám Kovácsik who gathered the ball easily.
The best save of the day came less than a minute after the break. Ferencváros’ Dénes Dibusz flashed his right hand out to turn a tight-angled Stopira shot that was heading for the roof of the net. A marvelous effort and easily my pick for save of the week.
Fradi were clearly frustrated and it spilled out in a tense moment between Marco Djuricin and László Kleinheisler who was shoved by his teammate after a brief exchange of words.
Chances were few and far between as the game wore one. Fradi’s Gergő Lovrencsics had a left-footed effort that fizzed past the post late on, but that was the only tense second-half moment in a game that promised much and ultimately didn’t deliver.
It wasn’t a bad result for the champions, but it was a much better result for Videoton who escaped the capital with a point. With Honvéd winning on the day, Thomas Doll’s side are now 8 points off the pace. I’m guessing this wasn’t the start he envisioned for his team heading into March.

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