World Cup qualifiers: England crush Hungary in hostile atmosphere in Budapest
Budapest: Creepy England beat Hungary on Thursday in Budapest with a four-goal second-half play-off that propels Gareth Southgate’s men to 2022 World Cup qualification in Qatar.
After a first half with no shots on target, Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock with a cut shot 10 minutes into the break before a pair of heads from Harry Kane and Harry Maguire and a late strike from Declan Rice sealed a 4-0 victory.
England had struggled to break through the Deep Magyars but the loot scored in the second half meant they had comfortably passed their first test since losing the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties to goal.
The Three Lions now have a maximum of 12 points in four games, five more than second-placed Poland, who beat Albania 4-1 on Thursday and host England in Warsaw next Wednesday.
England started with 10 squad members entering the pitch at Wembley against Italy with Bukayo Saka falling off the bench and Jack Grealish starting on the left wing.
As the English fans were unable to make the trip, more than 60,000 home fans struggled to create a hostile atmosphere in the Puskas Arena for visitors.
Ahead of the game, England players knelt down to point out racial injustice and were greeted with cacophonous boos despite Hungarian coach Marco Rossi’s calls ahead of the game for fans to behave.
Plastic glasses were also thrown by fans at Sterling after his goal, while a rocket was launched into the field near where Maguire celebrated his strike.
The Italian coach’s team, buoyed by encouraging performances at Euro 2020 where only a late equalizer from Germany denied them a move to the round of 16, were looking for their third consecutive victory in Group I.
But England dominated possession for most of a sometimes difficult game while initially failing to penetrate any solid defense other than the early efforts of Mason Mount and Kane who both sailed.
Faced with the pressure, the Hungarians sometimes collected half chances on the counterattack as their confidence grew throughout the first half.
Right-back Bendeguz Bolla kicked a ball deep to hit striker Adam Szalai in the box while RB Leipzig star Dominik Szoboszlai landed a free kick after Szalai was downed at the edge of the area.
England nearly took the lead five minutes into the second half when Kane forced a close-range save from home goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi before Sterling opened the floodgates shortly after.
England, now unbeaten in their last 14 meetings with Hungary, have scored 13 goals in four qualifying matches so far.
Hungary, who last qualified for the World Cup in 1986, face Albania away on Sunday and Andorra in Budapest next week.