In the heat of Budapest, with temperatures above 30 degrees in the stadium, Euro 2020 was blown wide open. France proved that despite all their unquestionable ability and embarrassment of riches, that they are human in their 1-1 draw with a Hungary side who do not look out of place in the group of death.
World champions France, after beating Germany without getting out of second gear last time out, were, and still are, heavy favourites for the tournament but Hungary may have laid out the blueprint on how to beat and frustrate Didier Deschamps talented side.
67,000 watched on in the sunshine, the majority of which fully behind the home side as they went toe-to-toe with France and even went into the break 1-0 in front, to the disbelief of millions watching around the world. Their gameplan of counter-attacking football, along with their ability to rile up this French side, saw them gain the best result in the country’s footballing history. A win over Germany in the final game is likely to see them progress to the knockout stages from one of the toughest groups we have seen at a major tournament.
France’s best opportunity of the opening half came as Kylian Mbappe was played in over the top and set up Karim Benzema with a wonderful first time flick, but the Real Madrid man inexplicably missed the target from close range, slicing his shot wide of the post.
Despite several half chances including a lot of bright movement from Mbappe, it was Hungary who unbelievably went ahead just before the break. Attila Fiola headed a diagonal ball down to Roland Sallai, who played the ball back into the path of the marauding left wing-back. He got the wrong side of both Raphael Varane and Benjamin Pavard and charged into the box before slotting the ball past Hugo Lloris calmly with his right foot. In front of 60,000 adoring Hungarian fans, he wheeled away in celebration in one of the moments of the tournament so far, although he then strangely decided to smash up a journalist's pitchside desk.
Seeing a packed crowd go absolutely nuts, both in the stadium and the Budapest fan park, was something just so utterly joyous. As for Fiola, the unlikely opening goal scorer has found his goalscoring boots having scored two goals in his last four appearances for Hungary, after failing to score in his first 33 for his country.
France did show heart and fight, but couldn’t completely turn the scoreline around. Ousmane Dembele came off the bench and brought spark to the French side, skinning two players before rasping a right-footed drive off the post. Then France’s pressure did eventually pay off but it was back to basics for Hugo Lloris who launched the ball long towards Mbappe who caused mayhem before squaring the ball towards Antoine Griezmann who had the simplest of finishes.
This wasn’t one way traffic by any means however, Hungary to their credit attacked and tested the French captain while Mbappe saw his thumping left-footed effort saved by Hungarian keeper Péter Gulácsi as he hunted his first goal of the tournament, with Olivier Giroud off the bench looking to France’s unfashionable savoir yet again.
Hungary, having been stung by three late goals against Portugal, showed their heart and managed to hold on for the point which gives them a chance at qualification, to the delight of the incredibly loud home following. Meanwhile, France, everybody’s favourites to win the competition, have shown they are not invincible and this is a result that will give hope for any of their opponents in the knockout stages.