Tam Courts Hungarian adventure got off to a disappointing start last night (Friday) as Honved fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Zalaegerszeg – recent conquerors of AC Milan – in the NBI curtain raiser.
A solitary second-half goal from Meshack Ubochioma two minutes into the second period was enough to send Ricardo Muniz, also making his bow as Zalaegerszeg head coach, and his side back up the road with all three points.
The visitors started the game in a positive fashion forcing two corners inside the first 60 seconds that the Honved defence just about managed to deal with, and continued to dominate the early stages targeting Alex Szabo in the Honved defence.
The young defender looked nervous in the opening exchanges and Zalaegerszeg looked to exploit this with Milán Májer and Mátyás Tajti, in particular, running at the centre-back at every opportunity. One such move saw Majer fouled by Szabo leading to a freekick from Tajti that drew a fine save from Szappanos in the Honved goal.
Despite Zalaegerszeg being the dominant side for large spells, Honved did manage to create several promising openings of their own. Jonsson, in the right-wing position, flashed a cross-shot across the face of the goal on 11 minutes and at the half-hour mark Lukic passed up a golden opportunity. The big forward heading wide from close range after being set up by the industrious Donát Zsótér.
Two minutes into the second-half Zalaegerszeg broke the deadlock as Ubochioma fired into the roof of the net after the Honved defence failed to deal with a long throw from Bence Gergényi.
Gergenyi’s long throws had been a feature of Zalaegerszeg’s throughout the game and almost paid dividends again on 49 minutes. This time the Honved defence did manage to scramble the throw-in clear, but only as far as Tajti who saw his 20-yard volley saved by Szappanos.
This sparked Honved into life for a spell with Tamas going close to levelling after being set up by Zsótér and Jonsson cruelly seeing a 25-yard thunderbolt disallowed following a VAR check; the infringement being a close handball call on Richie Ennin earlier in the move.
After weathering the storm, Zalaegerszeg regained the ascendancy, isolating the Honved defenders in 1v1 duels with the quicker Zala forwards often coming out on top. Manzinga and Ubochioma, in particular, caused the Honved backline no end of trouble.
On 74 minutes Tamas passed up another good chance to level for Honved, firing over after being set up again by Zsótér. However, from that point on Gergely Mim took control of the midfield for Zalaegerszeg creating several half-chances that his teammates could not convert.
Come the full-time whistle Honved had run out of ideas and it was Muniz and Zalaegerszeg who celebrated an opening day victory.