UEFA Euro 2024: Hungary rise from sickening Varga injury to achieve special win over Scotland - Hindustan Times
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UEFA Euro 2024: Hungary rise from sickening Varga injury to achieve special win over Scotland

By, Mumbai
Jun 28, 2024 11:19 AM IST

Once a European footballing power that has fallen, Hungary's battling 1-0 win over Scotland helped them finish third in Group A.

As the final whistle blew, Hungary’s Kevin Csoboth sank to his knees in tears. He held his head in his hands and looked up in disbelief, a feeling shared by Scottish fans in the stands and elsewhere but for contrasting reasons. Csoboth had just scored the latest goal in Euro history to keep his team’s round of 16 hopes alive and knock his opponents out of contention. It was a moment he’s unlikely to forget.

Hungary's forward #23 Kevin Csoboth (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's first goal(AFP)
Hungary's forward #23 Kevin Csoboth (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's first goal(AFP)

In a match where precious few clear-cut chances were created, Csoboth, who had come on as a substitute in the 86th minute, managed to hold his nerve and secure a 1-0 win with a 100th minute strike. Hungary had claimed their first Euro victory since 2016 and celebrated as if they had won the tournament, while Scotland were left to rue what might have been.

It was a must-win game for both teams at the Stuttgart Arena on Sunday night. Scotland had begun their campaign with a 5-1 loss to hosts Germany before holding Switzerland to a 1-1 draw. Hungary were beaten convincingly by Germany (2-0) and Switzerland (3-1). Neither team had a realistic chance of finishing in the top two in Group A, but it was Scotland who were in a more promising position to finish third.

Hungary though never stopped believing. They had their backs to the wall and were rooted to the bottom of the table for 99 minutes of the contest. Then they broke through and gave themselves a chance to qualify as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Scotland enjoyed 64% possession in the first half but couldn’t get a single shot away. Manchester United’s Scott McTominay was busy on the left but struggled to link up with Che Adams up front. For Hungary, it was all about being disciplined in defence and waiting for opportunities to counterattack. Despite not having much of the ball, they continued to create better chances. In the second half, they managed to build some momentum but goal-scoring opportunities for either team remained at a premium.

There was a tense period just after the hour mark when Hungary forward Barnabas Varga was stretchered off following a nasty clash with Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn. The 29-year-old looked unconscious as he lay on the pitch. The Hungary Football Federation stated later that he was stable in hospital. According to media reports quoting Hungary manager Marco Rossi, Varga suffered a concussion and will need surgery on a fractured cheekbone.

The lengthy break due to this unfortunate incident led to a 10-minute added time, and Hungary managed to capitalise in the most dramatic fashion. Scotland lost possession from a corner and Hungary skipper Dominik Szoboszlai began a counter from just outside the box. He played the ball to Csoboth on the left and he found Roland Sallai on the right flank. The ball was cut back calmly to Csoboth, who found the back of the net with a composed finish.

“It was incredible,” said Sallai, who was declared Player-of-the-Match. “Scoring so late, in the 100th minute, is a fantastic feeling, not only for me but for the whole team, for the staff, the fans included. We are very happy that it unfolded like that and we are hopeful in terms of the other games, that they are favourable for us.”

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke admitted his team didn’t do enough with all the possession. “We were always going to get caught on the counter when you open up like that, but we did create some chances,” he said. “Then as a consequence of being under pressure to get the win you maybe snatch at chances, the ball doesn't quite fall for us. You need the footballing gods to be on your side and they weren't on our side tonight.”

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