Hungary recorded their first victory over England in 60 years as the Three Lions lost their 22 game unbeaten streak with a dismal 1-0 defeat in Budapest.
After an hour of football in the Hungarian capital, it is no clearer where Trent Alexander-Arnold’s future with England lies. A tepid display at right wing-back was typical of a poor performance from the entire England side, which saw James Justin and Jarrod Bowen handed debuts.
It was a hot and humid night in Budapest and the vuvuzelas were enough to irritate any player, but this was a lethargic display from an England side still trying to find their feet. Five at the back didn’t work against a hard-working Hungary side, and with several players on the fringe of the World Cup squad, this was far from fluid from the Three Lions.
This Nations League campaign has come after a long and arduous season, and this one in particular was treated as a World Cup qualifier with those untested debutants. Justin came off injured at the break and Bowen was arguably the standout of the from three that comprised of Mason Mount, Harry Kane and himself, but the bar was a low one.
Justin’s replacement Bukayo Saka was the bright spark for England from left wing-back, and only wanting to get a 90 minute look at Bowen stopped him being moved into a more dangerous position.
It was a night of complete disappointment all-round. Jordan Pickford did nothing wrong but couldn’t get to the penalty, but aside from that, it was a below average display from all involved. One thing is for sure, a back four suited this England team in the final 15 minutes far more than the back five did.
There will always be a catastrophic reaction to any England loss on social media and obviously questions will be asked of Gareth Southgate, but the defeat only came courtesy of a soft penalty decision, given away by substitute Reece James.
But this defeat also needs a dose of reality. How many of tonight’s starting XI will be starting in Qatar?
Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker, Declan Rice and Harry Kane are the only guarantees. The issue Southgate has is that those fringe players didn’t do themselves any favours tonight. Jude Bellingham was poor in possession, Justin was way off the pace before going off injured and the less said about Alexander-Arnold the better.
The Liverpool man may just have played his way out of the World Cup squad.
This game behind closed doors, played in front of 40,000 fans, predominantly school children once again caused controversy as England were booed for taking the knee. It seems UEFA are unable to dish out a proper punishment, and it will be interesting to see how many fans are in attendance for England’s own behind closed doors game on Saturday.
After an hour of poor football for England and Gareth Southgate. John Stones, Jack Grealish and Reece James were introduced from the bench and within minutes, the Chelsea man had given away a penalty. A pass back and a stray arm was enough for the referee to give a soft penalty, and Dominik Szoboszlai converted from the spot.
Bowen had a volley saved, Coady’s headed effort drifted wide and Kane hit the side netting, but these chances came too late for an out of sorts England. A first defeat to Hungary in 60 years will need to be learnt from and quickly.
Germany away on Tuesday followed by Italy at the weekend will provide two tougher tests on paper than tonight. Those fringe players may only get a few more minutes to prove their worth to this squad.