History for Zala, Heartbreak for Budafok

Zalaegerszeg made history last night at the Puskas Arena by winning the Magyar Kupa for the first time in their 103-year history. Extra-time goals from Dániel Neméth and a stunning Szabolcs Szalay freekick were enough to break Budafok’s resolve and bring the cup home to Zala county.

Despite flirting with the NBI relegation zone, ZTE went into the final against NBII outfit Budafok as favourites.  However, any expectations they may have had about having an easy night of it were quickly dispelled.

Budafok, who had dispatched of NBI’s bottom club Vasas in the semi-final, gave a strong account themselves throughout the game, and posed a regular threat to Patrick Demjen’s goal.  Chief troublemaker was Péter Beke.  The ex-Hamburg striker caused mischief with his clever movement of the ball off the ball, forcing the ZTE backline to remain focussed at all times.

On the 20-minute mark Beke almost forced the opening goal only to see his low cross deflect up and onto the bar off the experienced Dávid Kálnoki-Kis.  At this point, Budafok were slightly edging the proceedings and an opening goal in their favour would not have been unjust.

After his near mishap, Kálnoki-Kis, who had previously won the cup with Újpest and Honvéd, settled his side into the game.  Still, it was Budafok who looked to force the play but could not find a way through to Demjen’s goal.

Zalaegerszeg eventually got to grips with their second-tier opponents as the game wore on.  As the clock ticked towards the 90-minute mark tensions rose on the park as both sides settled into a cautious rhythm, knowing that the first goal would likely be the last.

Gábor Boér did his best to encourage his players to raise the tempo and make the most of Budafok’s tiring legs.  Janos Matyas, on the other hand, was doing his utmost to make sure his players could make it through the 90 safely and to the brief sanctuary of the interlude before extra-time.

Fatigue would get the better of Budafok in extra-time.  Under constant pressure from Zalaegerszeg, Budafok’s resistance finally broke after 117 minutes; Dániel Németh capitalising on a fortunate ricochet before firing past Gundel-Takács from a narrow angle.

Three minutes later Szabolcs Szalay heaped more misery onto Budafok as he scored a wonder freekick to put some gloss on an otherwise difficult evening for ZTE.

The crowd from Zala County cared less about whether the scoreline flattered their team or not, for them, it was all about being crowned as Magyar Kupa champions for 2023.  A European adventure now awaits for next season.

For Budafok, it’s back to NBII business at the weekend and trying to finish the season as strongly as possible, despite the set back of last night.