Austria vs Hungary, 14/06/2016, 6pm, Bordeaux
The first Habsburg Derby since 1985 saw Hungary ease to victory against an underwhelming Austria side who were pre-match favourites and did not live up to their tag as one of the dark horses of the competition.
There was a good atmosphere inside the stadium before kick off, with the Austrian and Hungarian fans loudly cheering their teams for the warm-up and the Austria fans behind one of the goals producing an impressive Austrian flag display with metallic banners. Also of note was the appearance of Hungary goalkeeper Gábor Király, who made Euros history when he became the oldest player to play at a European Championships, aged of 40.
The game started brightly for Austria, who immediately took to the attack. Within the first minute, Austria’s star, David Alaba, had struck the post after shooting from range. However, this was the closest Austria were to come in the half as Hungary were able to clear their lines and then settle themselves down.
Two minutes later the Hungary captain, Balász Dzsudszák, had Hungary’s first effort on goal, shooting tamely at goal from long range.
The first half was played at a relatively slow pace when compared to other games at this tournament and this suited the Hungarian players who were able to pass the ball around comfortably and generally looked accomplished, very much belying their status as group underdogs. Austria, on the other hand, looked nervous and were perhaps struggling with the pressure of being seen as a potential dark horse for the tournament.
In accordance with the lack of pace in the game, there were no really good chances in the opening 20 minutes. Kristian Nemeth was almost put through by Kleinheisler (who the Belgian TV commentators likened to English player Paul Scholes) at one end and Arnautović set up Alaba at the other only for Alaba to tamely shoot straight at Gábor Király who held the ball well.
Hungary striker Adam Szalai was causing problems for the Austrian defenders and he set up Zoltán Gera for a shot with an excellent header, only for Gera to hit the ball first time. His connection was poor and the ball trickled into the keeper’s hands. Moments later he won a free kick after being hacked down by Dragović, who earned a yellow card for his troubles.
Austria were struggling to hold on to the ball for any great period of time but they did at least start creating chances again as the game drew on. One long ball found Janko, who nodded the ball into Junuzović’s path. Junuzović hit the ball into the ground and the bounce made the shot more dangerous. Király, showing every one of his 40-years, just about clawed the ball away for a corner, but the danger was clear.
Arnautović almost set up a goal a few minutes later, as he was released down the left flank by Alaba after some neat interchanges between the two. As Arnautović broke into the box he hit the ball across the six-yard box but Harnik was unable to get a proper connection on the ball and ended up hitting his own hand with the ball, which went out for a goal kick.
The final action of the half saw excellent play from Kleinheisler in front of goal. He then played Dzsudszák through on goal but his touch was poor and he scuffed his eventual shot well wide.
After the break, the game carried on in the same vein, with very little pace and attacking intent relatively minimal. Austria started with a brief show of intent, with Junuzović whipping the ball across the box. The ball took a deflection off a Hungarian defender and nearly fell to Arnautović but Kádár managed to get there before him to clear.
It took another ten minutes for a decent chance to arrive. Dzsudszák picked the ball up on the ten yards outside of the box, turned and struck a shot very sweetly towards the top corner of the goal but Almer did well to get across his goal and punch clear.
The breakthrough came another eight minutes later from some sumptuous interplay between Kleinheisler, the Hungarian Paul Scholes, and Szalai. Good passing and moving ended with Kleinheisler putting Szalai clean through, and the Hungarian number nine did well to stretch and touch the ball below the onrushing Almer into the net.
The Hungarian players, staff and fans all went wild and this may have contributed to a few lapses of concentration when, three minutes later, Austria had the ball in the back of the net. Some scrappy defending saw the Hungarian players waste multiple chances to clear, before the ball was finally fired home. Unfortunately, the whistle had already been blown for a foul from Dragović on a Hungarian defender and instead of being level Austria now found themselves 1-0 down and a man down, as Dragović was shown his second yellow card.
A few minutes later, Hungary’s goalscorer Szalai was withdrawn and Tamas Priskin was thrown on to hold the ball up. Hungary very quickly started to exploit their man advantage and crafted a number of good chances in the following ten minutes. Gera blazed over after good work from Dzsudszák and Néméth had a sublime effort from the edge of the box to force a world class save from Almer in the Austrian goal.
Kleinheisler was then brought off, with Stieber coming on, as Hungary looked to hold onto their lead. He looked solid and Hungary appeared to be calmly heading for their first win of Euro 2016. Then, after a brief spell of Austrian pressure, Stieber latched on to a long ball out of defence and found himself in acres of space, with just the keeper to beat. He advanced into the box and with the keeper going to ground early, calmly lofted the ball over Almer and into the goal. It was an absolutely excellent finish that confirmed the underdogs’ victory and might well have put to bed any suggestions that Austria are a team that could surprise people in this tournament. On this showing, Hungary could well be a better bet for qualification.
Austria: Almer, Fuchs, Hinteregger, Dragović, Klein, Baumgartlinger, Alaba, Arnautović, Junuzović, Harnik, Janko
Hungary: Király, Kádár, Lang, Guzmics, Fiola, Gera, Dzsudzsák, Kleinheisler, Nagy, Néméth, Szalai