John Stones’ past 11 games have all been for EnglandEngland’s path to the 2022 World Cup hit an unexpected stumbling block when they were held to a draw by Hungary in a qualifier Gareth Southgate called a “big disappointment”.
Southgate’s side are still in pole position to reach Qatar but this was a disjointed display despite England taking on the Hungarians with an attacking line-up.
The early stages at Wembley were overshadowed by ugly scenes involving Hungary fans, who jeered England’s players while holding up a banner protesting against taking the knee before clashing with police and stewards.
In a subdued atmosphere and after a semblance of order had been restored, Hungary took the lead in the 24th minute when Luke Shaw was penalised for a high challenge on Loic Nego and Roland Sallai sent Jordan Pickford the wrong way from the spot.
England were level before half-time, John Stones turning in at the far post after Tyrone Mings and Declan Rice touched on Phil Foden’s free-kick.
Hungary then survived in relative comfort, Harry Kane’s struggles for form summed up when England’s captain was substituted even though they were searching desperately for a winner.
Follow reaction to the game here”I don’t think we played at the level we have done 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 subconsciously we thought this was going to be an easier game because we beat them comfortably [4-0] in September but they’ve been very good defensively right through the summer.
“In the first few minutes we were taking heavy touches and colliding into tackles. We didn’t show the composure and quality that we have done generally.”
Kane’s search for form goes onThe notion of Kane being taken off as they pressed for a winning goal might have been unthinkable at one point but he could have no complaints here when he was replaced by Tammy Abraham with 14 minutes left.
It came just after he had snatched at a chance in a manner which reflected a striker searching in vain for form and confidence.
This was the first time he failed to score in a qualifier for England since September 2017, a run of 15 goalscoring games in a row.
Kane’s performance was very average throughout, a shadow of the player who has been a spearhead for England for so long.
He had set up a chance for Raheem Sterling just before he was taken off. Sterling, one of a record five Manchester City players in England’s starting line-up, could not cash in and was also taken off at the same time as Kane. He is another who is currently nowhere near his best.
Kane will surely bounce back but it was a display that once again poses the questions about how much he has been affected by a summer of speculation when he wanted to leave Tottenham for Manchester City but eventually had to stay in north London.
He does not look himself and the sooner the old spark returns the better for England and Spurs.
Southgate’s bold choice comes up shortSouthgate gave the public what they wanted by fielding an England team with just one holding midfielder in Declan Rice and letting the talented triumvirate of Foden, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish loose on Hungary.
Foden and Grealish had their moments although Mount was quiet as England lacked the attacking thrust to apply serious pressure and break down a well-organised Hungary defence.
It was a surprise when Grealish was replaced by Bukayo Saka just after the hour. It certainly came as a surprise to many in the Wembley crowd who loudly registered their disapproval, although Saka was given a rapturous welcome.
With Kalvin Phillips injured and Jordan Henderson on the bench, England’s attack-minded selection left them more open to a counter-attack. Hungary did threaten on occasions but they were not good enough to accept the invitation. Better teams might so Southgate has certainly been given food for thought and will learn lessons from this.
England are still on course to go to Qatar but this was a disappointing performance in what was a largely dull encounter, with most of the attention sadly focusing on the clashes between Hungarian fans and police and stewards moments after the kick-off.
This was a highly unsatisfactory night all round, although Hungary celebrated their hard-earned point after the final whistle.
England are three points above second-placed Poland with two qualifiers to go next month.
“We’re in 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 with Albania and trip to San Marino.
Player of the match
with an average of 6.73
EnglandSquad number7Player nameGrealish
Squad number5Player nameStones
Squad number8Player nameFoden
Squad number4Player nameRice
Squad number6Player nameMings
Squad number1Player namePickford
Squad number2Player nameWalker
Squad number3Player nameShaw
Squad number11Player nameMount
Squad number14Player nameHenderson
Squad number23Player nameWatkins
Squad number19Player nameSaka
Squad number10Player nameSterling
Squad number18Player nameAbraham
Squad number9Player nameKane
HungarySquad number7Player nameNego
Squad number20Player nameSallai
Squad number13Player nameSchäfer
Squad number4Player nameSzalai
Squad number8Player nameNagy
Squad number1Player nameGulácsi
Squad number5Player nameNagy
Squad number19Player nameSchön
Squad number10Player nameSzoboszlai
Squad number2Player nameLang
Squad number14Player nameBolla
Squad number3Player nameKecskés
Squad number11Player nameHolender
Squad number23Player nameNikolic
Squad number18Player nameVécsei
Squad number21Player nameHahn
1Pickford2Walker5Stones6Mings3ShawBooked at 22mins8Foden4Rice11Mount10SterlingSubstituted forHendersonat 76’minutes9KaneSubstituted forAbrahamat 76’minutesSubstituted forWatkinsat 90+2’minutes7GrealishSubstituted forSakaat 62’minutesSubstitutes12Trippier13Johnstone14Henderson15Coady16Tomori17Chilwell18Abraham19Saka20Sancho21Ward-Prowse22Ramsdale23WatkinsHungaryFormation 3-4-2-1
1Gulácsi3Kecskés2Lang4Szalai7NegoSubstituted forBollaat 90+3’minutes8Nagy13SchäferSubstituted forVécseiat 79’minutes5Nagy10SzoboszlaiBooked at 90minsSubstituted forNikolicat 90+2’minutes19SchönSubstituted forHolenderat 68’minutes20SallaiSubstituted forHahnat 79’minutesSubstitutes6Balogh9Sallói11Holender14Bolla16Gazdag17Varga18Vécsei21Hahn22Bogdán23NikolicReferee:Alejandro José Hernández Hernández
Live TextMatch ends, 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 top left corner. Assisted by Phil Foden.
Attempt missed. Phil Foden (England) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, England. Conceded by Nemanja Nikolic.
Substitution, Hungary. Bendegúz Bolla replaces Loic Nego.
Substitution, England. Ollie Watkins replaces Tammy Abraham because of an injury.
Substitution, Hungary. Nemanja Nikolic replaces 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 missed. Luke Shaw (England) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Attempt missed. Filip Holender (Hungary) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Zsolt Nagy.
Foul by John Stones (England).
Ákos Kecskés (Hungary) wins a free kick in the defensive half.