England in driving seat of World Cup qualifiers after dispatching Hungary

Date published: Thursday 2nd September 2021 9:39 - Samuel Bannister

Declan Rice, Harry Kane and Harry Maguire celebrate England goal against Hungary

England preserved their 100 percent record from their World Cup qualifying group so far by beating Hungary 4-0 in Budapest.

In their first game since the Euro 2020 final, which they lost to Italy on penalties, England picked up their momentum in World Cup qualifying. After winning their first three games in Group I, they added a fourth success thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Declan Rice.

Gareth Southgate only changed one member of his lineup from the side that started the Euro 2020 final, although there was a tactical shift. Reverting to a back four, Manchester City new boy Jack Grealish replaced Kieran Trippier in the starting XI.

It was a Euros regular who had England’s first half-decent effort of the game; Mason Mount aimed a shot off target via a slight deflection.

There was a nervous moment for John Stones around 15 minutes later as he misjudged a vertical Hungary attack. However, he managed to reset himself, and at the other end, his new clubmate helped spark a chance of England’s own.

Grealish played a one-two with Mount and teed up Kane – who, of course, was wanted by City this summer but stayed with Tottenham. The England captain’s shot from the edge of the box went over.

Yet to find a breakthrough, England had some nerves when giving away a free kick in inviting territory on the edge of the box. Rice brought down Dominik Szoboszlai, Hungary’s star player who missed the Euros through injury. Fortunately for England, he also missed the subsequent free kick, which sailed over.

Consequently, the first half ended with zero shots on target for either side.

Second half goes much better for England

England had their best chance yet shortly after the break, when Kyle Walker slipped in Kane. But the striker couldn’t connect cleanly and Peter Gulacsi made a comfortable save.

At least it was their first shot on target, though, and they soon found the breakthrough.

Moments after receiving a yellow card for a studded challenge, Rice broke up play legally in the middle of the park. England transitioned into attack, with Grealish running down the left wing and setting up Mount on the overlap.

The Chelsea midfielder sent the ball into the box for Sterling to connect with and make it 1-0.

The lead was doubled seven minutes later. Hungary lost possession when trying to play forwards and England clinically punished them. Sterling sent the ball into the box and Kane dived to head home.

Next, though, Gulacsi was able to stop Kane again after an effort along the ground.

Instead, it was another Harry – Maguire – who got England’s third goal. The Manchester United centre-back powerfully headed in a corner from clubmate Luke Shaw, which Gulacsi got a hand to but could not stop crossing the line.

England retain control

Hungary were reduced to half-chances and it was summed up when Szoboszlai sent another free kick even higher over the bar than his previous attempt.

Sterling had a chance for a second when rounding the goalkeeper, but he couldn’t get his shot away in time as Gulacsi recovered. Had it gone in, he would likely have been called offside by VAR anyway.

Kane was denied yet again when aiming straight at Gulacsi once more, as a frustrating night – despite his earlier goal – continued.

At the other end, Jordan Pickford was given a decent test for the first time, keeping out an effort from Daniel Salloi.

But England were comfortable and Rice made it four with less than five minutes remaining. After feeding through Grealish, the West Ham man got the ball back from his teammate and Gulacsi fumbled at his effort to concede another.

It capped off a comfortable evening for Southgate’s side, who are in the driving seat as their qualification campaign continues.

Next up is a match against Andorra at Wembley on September 5th, before a visit to Poland three days later.

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