Hungary's New Captain Ensures Win in Latest European Champs Qualifying Match
- 29 Mar 2023 6:44 AM
Hungary coach Marco Rossi marked his 50th match in the role by naming an almost unchanged lineup from the one which emerged one-nil victors over Estonia on Thursday, Ádám Nagy replacing Zsolt Kalmár in central midfield, a decision which was rewarded almost immediately when Bálint Vécsei forced a rebound over the Bulgaria goalline following a short corner.
Good work from Szoboszlai driving into the left side of the penalty area had been followed by goalbound efforts from Roland Sallai and Willy Orbán, both blocked by visiting goalkeeper Naumov. This was Vécsei’s second goal in a Hungary shirt, his first coming against San Marino in November 2021.
That opening goal came in the seventh minute and Martin Ádám and Bendegúz Bolla both went close to extending that lead before Szoboszlai stepped up to curl a wicked free-kick from more than 20 metres away into the top-right corner of the Bulgaria goal before the half-hour mark.
A dream start for Rossi's men was to improve even more before the half was over though, Martin Ádám also scoring his second goal in Hungary colours and second in two games when he converted Szoboszlai's half-intercepted pass at the far post, stroking the ball back across Naumov and into the far corner of the net in the 40th minute.
Szoboszlai had run the show thus far with his speed, vision and high-class technique but he'd also been ably supported by all ten of his teammates, a feature which would remain constant throughout as Hungary comfortably managed the second half and ensured that their first match of the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign would end in a comfortable win.
There was even the opportunity for Rossi tohnd Barnabás Varga hisdebut as a substitute for Martin Ádám on the stroke of the hour.
Hungary have now won seven of their last eight European Championship qualifying matches on home soil and in number 10 Szoboszlai they seem to have found a worthy successor to Ádám Szalai as an inspirational national-team captain. Midfielder Vécsei summed up Szoboszlai's qualities to UEFA.com after the match:
"He's a really decisive player for us. We saw tonight just what he can bring to the party, in defence and attack. He possesses real quality, and truly is our captain. He's really mastering the role. It's a joy to play with him."
Hungary 3-0 Bulgaria (HT: 3-0)
HUNGARY: Dibusz – Lang, Orbán, Szalai A. – Bolla (Nego, 86), Nagy Á. (Kleinheisler, 73), Vécsei (Kalmár, 87), Kerkez – Sallai (Csoboth, 73), Ádám M. (Barnabás Varga, 59), Szoboszlai.
BULGARIA: Naumov – Stoyanov, Antov, Galabov – Markov (H. Petrov, 46), Karabelyov (Krastev, 46), Gruev (Shopov, 85), N. Iliev, Petkov – Despodov (Kirilov, 57), Delev (Rusev, 46)
Goalscorers: Vécsei (7), Szoboszlai (26), Ádám M. (40).
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