FRADI: Next Stop, Europa League

On a night of high emotion and drama, Ferencvaros secured their return to European Group Stage football for the first time in 15 years thanks to a 4-2 victory against FK Suduva of Lithuania.

Spurred on by a spectacular Rocky inspired tifo display with the phrase Feladni Soha – Never Give Up – and a spine-tingling rendition of Himnusz, Ferencvaros showed the bottle of champions to come off the ropes and secure a famous result.

After a cagey opening to the game, it was the visitors who dared to spoil the occasion, opening the scoring on the 11th minute following the first of several failed attempts by Ferencvaros to play out from the back.

The loss of the opening goal stung Fradi and momentarily knocked them for six, almost long enough for Suduva to extend their advantage with what would surely have been a tie ending second goal. As it transpired, it was Ferencvaros who scored next in slightly controversial circumstances.

Ivorian forward Franck Boli was brought down in the box by the Suduva keeper for a clear penalty, however, as the match official blew for the foul, the ball rebounded off a Suduva defender and into the goal. The goal was not given and the penalty stood instead. Fortunately for all concerned Roli Varga converted the spot-kick to level the scores.

Better was to come in first-half stoppage time as Boli flicked home a cross from the right to give the hosts a deserved lead at the interval and send the 18,500 strong support wild with delight.

After the break Suduva emerged motivated from their half-time team talk, began to inch more and more into the game, winning more individual battles. On the 63rd minute their persistence paid off as Topcagic scored Suduva’s second of the night, from a similar position to Boli’s goal in the first half. Unlike the Ivorian’s strike, Topcagic managed to squeeze his effort passed Dibusz at his near post.

At 2-2 Ferencvaros was facing elimination for the second time on the night. However, for a second time they showed character and resilience to bounce back and regain momentum, and the lead just three minutes later.

Tokmac, who’s quick feet and direct running had troubled Suduva all evening, went on another of his mesmeric runs before firing a right-foot effort from fully 20 yards across goal and into the far corner. In an instant of genius, the tie turned once again in Fradi’s favour.

From here on out the hosts dominated proceedings with Tokmac, Isaes, and Signevich all missing highly presentable opportunities to wrap the tie up.

In the end, it took a second debatable penalty decision in added time, this time converted by Signevich, to put the icing on the cake and secure Europa League football for Ferencvaros for the first time in 15 years.