Attila Fiola will feature prominently on all the featured reels that have been produced about Euro 2021.
The Hungarian side’s first goal in Saturday’s dramatic 1-1 draw with world champion France is already destined to be remembered as one of the tournament’s golden moments. It just wasn’t in the script, and that’s what made it so beautiful.
What ranked 37th Hungary lacked in class, they made up for with perseverance, courage and determination, all of which combined earned the Hungarians a surprise point that keeps their qualifying hopes alive heading into the final game against Germany.
Make no mistake about it: the home team, and their fans, deserved the draw. In a world still in social distance due to the pandemic, Budapest’s packed stadium was truly an incredible sight to behold. You are unlikely to hear a louder roar than the one that received Fiola’s big goal just before the break.
Nobody expected Hungary to score, of course. France had won their last five matches in all competitions without conceding a goal. Having started their Euro campaign with an impressive 1-0 win over Germany, the Bleus were expected to put their hosts aside with minimal fuss.
However, Hungary had already shown that they are not only here to make up for the numbers by frustrating Portugal for 84 minutes in their first tournament. Coach Marco Rossi’s team was once again resilient and well organized, although French striker Karim Benzema, who has never scored a goal in a European Championship, should have given Les Bleus the advantage after being brilliantly enabled by Mbappé during the match. First half.
Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann were constant threats as well, but Hungary dug deep, defended in numbers and did an excellent job of keeping the world champions at bay.
“We had great opportunities in the first half,” French coach Didier Deschamps told TF1 after the match. “We had a chance to score, but we didn’t. It’s football. They barely got anything too.”
But Hungary made a change and the relentless pace of work by the entire team, and the deafening roar inside the stadium, was what kept them on fire.
“It was a tough match in front of a home crowd,” Griezmann told beIN Sports. “We lost our way with the stadium full, we couldn’t get going. The field was dry and it was very hot. We couldn’t meet or take advantage of the chances we had in the first half. And we paid.” for it. But there are great players everywhere and even against Hungary it is difficult. ”
Fiola’s good first-half injury time result was undoubtedly a reward for Hungary’s heroic deeds, but there was always that nagging feeling that France’s quality would eventually result in a goal.
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The post had already denied French substitute Ousmane Dembélé a draw when Griezmann tied things at close range, after Hungary failed to properly clear a cut from Mbappé. It was the seventh goal for the Barcelona striker in the Eurocup; only Cristiano Ronaldo (11) and Michel Platini (9) have scored more in the history of the competition.
A strong hand from Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi denied Mbappé as the clock struck 90, with the Hungarians putting their bodies on the line to try and block all shots on goal.
France will be frustrated because, after 15 attempts, they couldn’t find a winner and Deschamps later argued that his players had struggled with the heat.
“This is a point. Obviously, this is not what we expected, but given the context, we will take it anyway,” Deschamps said.
“Am I worried? No. We have the group to react to,” Griezmann said after the game. “We know we have the players to make a difference at any time.”
There will be talk that France failed to win, but Hungary made the nation proud, and as Hungarian fans danced at the Puskas Arena exits, a deafening chorus from Ria Ria Hungaria could still be heard inside the stadium.
The atmosphere is likely to be as unforgettable as Fiola’s goal.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.