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Sloppy Italy stunned 3-1 by Hungary in friendly

World champions Italy produced a lacklustre performance and slumped to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat by Hungary in a friendly on Wednesday.
By HT Correspondent | Reuters, Budapest
UPDATED ON AUG 23, 2007 05:08 AM IST

World champions Italy produced a lacklustre performance and slumped to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat by Hungary in a friendly on Wednesday.

The stunning win over Italy gave Hungary their greatest win for a number of years as they have struggled to do well in their Euro 2008 qualifiers, losing to smaller nations such as Malta recently.

An impressive display by West Bromwich Albion midfielder Zoltan Gera, who scored a penalty and set up the other two goals, allowed Hungary to come from behind and cap a memorable night.

Italian coach Roberto Donadoni, however, can expect a rough ride when he returns home after his side failed to win their final match before facing World Cup finalists France in a Euro 2008 Group B qualifier on Sept 8.

Donadoni, however, tried to play down the significance of the result.

"Our game dropped in the second half, while the Hungarians upped the tempo. Fabio Cannavaro made two big mistakes but these things happen in football," he said.

"The referee was a bit harsh on the penalty. All in all, it is not a big deal, we've got to bring the result in the qualifiers."

After an eventful but scoreless first half, Italy took the lead in the 49th minute with an Antonio Di Natale goal.

LOST RHYTHM

The Udinese striker, who came on as a substitute after the break, poked in a loose ball that rolled into the left corner under Leicester City keeper Marton Fulop.

The Italians then lost their rhythm.

In the 62nd minute, defender Roland Juhasz equalised with a blast from 14 metres that thundered into the top left corner with Gianluigi Buffon stranded.

Four minutes later Cannavaro felled forward Tamas Priskin and Gera coolly sent Buffon the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Backed by a 40,000 strong crowd, Gera went on to steal the ball from Cannavaro and unselfishly set up Brescia striker Robert Feczesin, who tapped into the open net from six metres to complete the scoreline.

"It is a fantastic night for me, for the team and for the supporters. We believe in these players, they are young and most of them inexperienced, but they definitely have a future," Hungarian coach Peter Varhidi said.

Italy trail leaders France by two points in their Euro 2008 qualifying standings. They also face Ukraine on Sept 12.

Hungary lie fifth in their seven-team table with just six points from seven games.

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