The Euro 2016 Hungary campaign kicked off Group F play taking on Austria at Stade de Bordeaux. Austria vs Hungary is the second most played match in international soccer. Hungary had 66 wins and 31 draws against Austria in 137 previous match-ups. Hungarian goalkeeper, Gábor Király made history in this fixture, becoming the oldest player to appear at a European Championship finals at the age of 40 years and 75 days.
Bernd Storck’s squad started with a 4-1-4-1 formation. Hungary’s strategy from the opening whistle was to sit back and wait for chances on the counter. This strategy was perfect and the Hungarians played it out better than anyone could’ve dreamed.
Hungary almost found themselves down 1-0 in the opening minute, as David Alaba’s shot banged off the woodwork of Kiraly’s goal. After the Bayern Munich man’s chance, no clear chances were provided either side. Both teams looked weary of being pulled out of formation and taking any major risks. But, Király was put to the test again in the 35th minute: Zlatko Junozović’s volley forced him into a strong one handed save.
Zoltán Gera, the leading active goal scorer for Hungary (24 goals in 89 caps) was quiet throughout the match. László Kleinheisler, a relative newcomer (5 caps) provided a spark for the Hungarians. The 22-year-old was the lone bright spark for Hungary in the first half, as the player responsible for picking up the ball and moving it forward on counter-attacks, as he looked to pick out passes trying to free the likes of Ádám Szalai and Balázs Dzsudzsák.
Dzsudzsák got the second half off to a quick start, sending a knuckler at Austrian goalkeeper, Robert Almer, in the 55th minute to force a punched save. Kleinheisler’s quick and accurate passing finally broke the deadlock. After a long ball played from the back, quick give-and-goes between him and Szalai, Szalai found himself in on goal. Szalai’s sliding right-footed finish saw the ball roll beneath Almer for the opening goal of the match.
Hungarian hopes grew as Austrian defender, Aleksandar Dragović, received his second yellow card in the 66th minute. Five minutes later, Krisztián Németh, forced a finger tip save of Almer.
Zoltán Stieber sealed the victory for the Hungarians in the 87th minute. As the Austrians pushed forward looking for an equalizer, a long ball from the back found Stieber with acres of space racing through on goal. Almer came and out, but Stieber put a clever chip over the Austrian finding the net.
Coming into this match against Austria, the Hungarians would’ve dreamed to leave with a point. With Iceland in their next group match, the Hungarians start to look at a possible knockout stage appearance.