The John Stones’ last 11 games have all been for England
England’s path to the 2022 World Cup came up against an unexpected stumbling block when Hungary drew with Hungary in what Gareth Southgate described as a “big disappointment” in a qualifier.
Southgate’s side are still in pole position to reach Qatar but this was a disjointed performance despite England taking on the Hungarians with an offensive line-up.
The early stages at Wembley were overshadowed by ugly scenes with Hungarian fans mocking England’s players while holding up a banner protesting against kneeling before clashing with police and stewards.
In a subdued atmosphere and after order was restored, Hungary took the lead in the 24th minute when Luke Shaw was punished for a high foul on Loic Nego and Roland Sallai sent Jordan Pickford from the penalty spot in the wrong direction.
England leveled before half-time with John Stones turning the far post after Tyrone Mings and Declan Rice hit a Phil Foden free kick.
Hungary then survived relatively comfortably, with Harry Kane’s battle for form adding up when the English captain was substituted off despite being desperate for a winner.
“I don’t think we played at the level we played and Hungary defended very well. We didn’t do enough to win the game,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I don’t know if we subconsciously thought this was going to be an easier game because we comfortably beat them [4-0] in September, but they were very well on the defensive all summer.
“In the first few minutes we took heavy touches and collided in one-on-one battles. We didn’t show the composure and quality that we generally did.”
Kane’s search for form continues
The idea of Kane being dismissed when they pushed for a winning goal might have been unthinkable at some point, but he couldn’t complain when he was replaced by Tammy Abraham 14 minutes from time.
It came after catching a chance that mirrored a striker looking in vain for form and confidence.
This marked the first time since September 2017 that he failed to score in a qualifying match for England, a streak of 15 goals in a row.
Kane’s performance was consistently average, a shadow of the player who spearheaded England for so long.
He had given Raheem Sterling a chance right before he was deposed. Sterling, one of five Manchester City record players in England’s starting XI, failed to concede and was dismissed at the same time as Kane. He is another one who is nowhere near at his best.
Kane is sure to bounce back, but it was an ad that again raises the question of how much he was hit by a summer of speculation when he was about to leave Tottenham for Manchester City but ended up having to stay in north London.
He doesn’t look himself and the sooner the old spark returns, the better for England and the Spurs.
Southgate’s brave choice falls short
Southgate gave the public what they wanted by creating an English team with only one midfielder in Declan Rice and unleashing the talented triumvirate Foden, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish on Hungary.
Foden and Grealish had their moments, though Mount was calm as England lacked the attack boost to put serious pressure on and break a well-organized Hungarian defense.
It was a surprise when Grealish was replaced by Bukayo Saka shortly after an hour. It certainly came as a surprise to many in the Wembley crowd, who voiced their disapproval out loud, despite Saka being greeted enthusiastically.
With Kalvin Phillips injured and Jordan Henderson on the bench, England’s attacking selection made them more open to counterattack. Hungary made occasional threats, but they weren’t good enough to accept the invitation. There could be better teams so Southgate has certainly provided food for thought and will learn lessons from it.
England are still on their way to Qatar but this was a disappointing performance in a largely boring encounter.
It was an all-round unsatisfactory night, despite the fact that Hungary celebrated their hard-won point after the final whistle.
England are three points ahead of second-placed Poland with two qualifiers next month.
“We have a very strong position in the group but tonight is a big disappointment,” said Southgate. “We have to make sure we get it right next month.”
England need four points from a home game against Albania and the trip to San Marino.
Player of the game
- 2Walking aid
- 3ShawBooked at 23 minutes
- 10sterlingReplaced byHendersonat 76 ‘protocol
- 9KaneReplaced byAbrahamat 76 ‘protocolReplaced byWatkinsat 90 + 3 ‘protocol
- 7thReallyReplaced bySaysat 62 ‘protocol
- 7thNegoReplaced bybladderat 90 + 3 ‘protocol
- 13thshepherdReplaced byToiletat 79 ‘protocol
- 10His roomBooked at 90 minutesReplaced byNikolicat 90 + 2 ‘protocol
- 19thNiceReplaced byDutchat 68 ‘protocol
- 20thSallaReplaced byfaucetat 79 ‘protocol
Referee: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández
End of the game, England 1, Hungary 1.
Second half ends, England 1, Hungary 1.
Foul by Ollie Watkins (England).
Péter Gulácsi (Hungary) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Ollie Watkins (England) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the center of the box. Supported by Phil Foden.
Attempt failed. Phil Foden (England) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, england. Granted by Nemanja Nikolic.
Replacement, Hungary. Bendegúz Bolla replaces Loic Nego.
Substitution, England. Ollie Watkins replaces Tammy Abraham because of an injury.
Replacement, Hungary. Nemanja Nikolic is replacing Dominik Szoboszlai.
Luke Shaw (England) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Loic Nego (Hungary).
Tyrone Mings (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by János Csaba Hahn (Hungary).
Dominik Szoboszlai (Hungary) is shown the yellow card.
Offside, England. Luke Shaw tries a through ball, but Tammy Abraham is caught offside.
Attempt failed. Luke Shaw (England) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Attempt failed. Filip Holender (Hungary) right footed shot from the left side of the box goes up and wide to the right. Supported by Zsolt Nagy.
Foul by John Stones (England).
Ákos Kecskés (Hungary) wins a free kick in the defensive half.