The Hungarian national football team on Wednesday swept away its recent woes to
shock reigning world champions Italy 3-1 in a friendly at the Puskás Ferenc
stadium in Budapest.
The Italians have yet to begin their domestic season, but were still hot
favourites to beat Hungary, who are struggling to qualify for Euro 2008, and
started the stronger of the two sides. Italy opened the scoring four minutes
into the second half when
Antonio di Natale managed to deflect a shot past Hungary keeper Márton Fülöp.
Yet the Italians’ lead did not last long, and Roland Juhász volleyed home in the
62nd minute after a headed pass from Tamás Vaskó.
Things went from bad to worse for Italy three minutes later when 2006 FIFA
World Player of the Year Fabio Cannavaro brought down Tamás Priskin in the box.
Zoltán Gera tucked away the resultant penalty. Cannavaro was again at fault for
Hungary’s final goal in the 76th minute. Gera robbed him of the ball
and then passed to substitute Róbert Feczesin, who made no mistake with the
Hungary coach Péter Várhidi was delighted by the result – Hungary’s first
victory over the Italians in 42 years – as were the majority of the 34,900 fans
that flocked to the game. “I knew we had a chance…but this result exceeds my
expectations,” he said.
The game was a warm up for upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers but of the two teams
only Italy has a realistic chance of qualifying, sitting second in Group B with
15 points. Italy plays group leaders France in Milan on September 8, and coach
Roberto Donadoni – who said the Hungarians were more up for the game – believes
his team will be better prepared by then.
“We have two games (in Serie A) before France … our condition will improve,”
The game could well be crucial for Italians, as they have already lost to
France and are trailing their rivals by two points. Third-placed Scotland – who
beat South Africa 1-0 in a friendly – are at home to Lithuania on the same day
and could overtake the
Italians should they lose to France.
Hungary play Bosnia-Hercegovina in Budapest on the same day, but with only six
points in Group C – 12 behind leaders Greece – the chances of qualification are