Hungary stunned the World Champions after the host held France to a 1-1 draw at fan-filled Ferenc Puskas Stadium in Budapest. Antione Griezmann, at 66th minute, neutralized Attila Fiola’s late first-half goal.
The World Champions almost lost to the sea of Hungarian passion and aggression in the sweltering heat of 30°C in the ‘Group of Death’ encounter at Puskas Arena on Saturday. Hungary began the game with some sparks but France soon found their momentum into the game. Peter Gulacsi denied Karim Benzema shortly after Kylian Mbappe’s header missed the post by some distance. The World Champions made several pushes into the game but could not find the net, Mbappe and Benzema combined to set up Benzema but the half-volley went wide. After Adam Szalai, the Hungarian captain was forced off injured midway into the first half, only one team had the chance to score before the end of the first half, but, to everyone’s surprise, not the side that did.
The second minute into the first half’s injury time, France was swept off their feet after Atilla Fiola gathered a one-two, dodged Benjamin Pavard, and toe-poked past Hugo Lloris into the net at the near post. More than 60,000 supporters at the Stadium exclaimed in unison while France supporters got hit by their frustrated complacency, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe could only huff and shrug as the Hungarian mass erupted into a sound wave.
The majority of the footballing population speculated France to overcome this narrow and unfortunate deficit, but as the second half progressed, the World Champions were jittery. Raphael Varane miscued several clearances, Kante seemed to lose his charm and Mbappe’s precision was nowhere to be found. The Hungarian mass in the stadium believed that they were about to witness the miracle slowly turning into reality.
Ousmane Dembele, after being subbed on for Adrien Rabiot, galvanized the dreaded French attack after he dodged the two Hungarian defenders from the right-wing only to find his shot hit the side sticks rising the tension in Deschamp’s camp.
After Lloris spotted a two-on-two, his long ball found Mbappe near the opposition’s penalty area. Willi Orban got the most unfortunate of touches off Mbappe’s cross to lay the ball perfectly for the previous Golden boot winner, Antoine Griezmann, who swatted with precision to bring the match on level terms.
Hungary, despite conceding the goal, did not crumble, rather stayed organized and determined to resist the French attack. Captain Peter Gulacsi led the defensive charge as he blocked, stopped, and caught the raining shots. Despite throwing every quality attack towards the goal in the final 10 minutes of the game, the disciplined Hungarian backline coupled with the electrified spirit oozing from the ground added more frustration to the French camp and their every move and tactics went in vain. In the heated battle, the hosts salvaged the point and exposed the Group F wide open.