England swept Hungary aside in their 2022 World Cup qualifier tonight, winning 0-4 in Budapest’s Puskas Arena. The win puts them in firm control of Group I and means they look set to qualify for next year’s tournament in Qatar.
Hungary were expected to give England a tough game, but that never materialized, and after a slow first half, the Three Lions ripped their hosts apart in the second period.
Goals from Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Declan Rice were enough to hand England three points. And while the win won’t erase the memories of their loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, it was an excellent performance overall.
Here are five talking points from England’s win over Hungary.
#1 Ruthless England waste no time in getting back in the saddle after their Euro heartbreak
The summer of 2021 was obviously a tumultuous one for England. Gareth Southgate’s men made history by reaching their first major final since 1966, only to fall at the final hurdle against Italy following a heartbreaking penalty shootout.
A post-Euros hangover in this game could perhaps have been understandable, particularly with only three domestic games of the season played. However, that wasn’t the case at all.
England started relatively slowly in the first half as Hungary sat deep and clearly had designs on stifling their more illustrious opponents. But after probing and picking for 45 minutes, the Three Lions really came alive in the second half.
Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling in particular began to show more movement and positional fluidity than they displayed in the first half, and suddenly, gaps began to appear in a tired Hungarian defense.
That was enough to create plenty of chances for England, and while four goals was an excellent return, on another night they could’ve had double that. In the end, they finished the game with eight shots on target and a 64% share of the possession.
Years ago, England would’ve stuttered through this kind of test and may well have come away with a point or worse. This match, however, offered more proof that the Three Lions are continuing to evolve under Southgate, and suggested that they’ll be one of the favorites to win next year’s World Cup.
#2 Disappointing Hungary offered very little offensively
During the build-up to this game, optimistic England fans were warned that Hungary would offer their side a very tricky test.
After all, they’d performed admirably at Euro 2020, taking points from both France and Germany in the so-called ‘Group of Death’, and what’s more, here they had their talismanic playmaker Dominik Szoboszlai back from injury.
However, despite their crowd providing an intimidating and hostile atmosphere, Marco Rossi’s side offered very little on the pitch, particularly offensively.
It was clear that Hungary would be looking to counter-attack against a side expected to dominate possession, but they didn’t really manage to do that at all.
Szoboszlai was essentially anonymous for the entire game, and even when England were cruising once they’d established a lead in the second half, Hungary never really threatened.
Sure, England’s defense looked solid and were expertly screened by midfielders Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, but it was hard not to be disappointed with this limp performance from the hosts – particularly given how they performed in the summer.
Simply put, to manage just one shot on target throughout the 90 minutes was woeful.