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0:2 – Hungarian Hopes Crumble Against a Confident Italy

Hungary’s national team finished second in the Division A Group 3 of the Nations League after suffering a defeat from the European champion, Italy. Retiring captain Ádám Szalai said a heartfelt goodbye to the national team.

The Hungarian national football team suffered a 2-0 defeat to Italy in the sixth and final round of the UEFA Nations League at the Puskás Arena in Budapest on Monday.

The European champions took advantage of a huge defensive mistake and took the lead through Giacomo Raspadori in the 27th minute. Hungary had a great chance to equalize right after the break but Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma kept out four shots. Federico Dimarco scored a second Italian goal in the 52nd minute.

The Italians’ success moved them above Hungary at the top of the table and into the final four of the series next June. The Hungarian team finishes the series in second place in Division A Group 3.

Hungary’s ten points in the „Group of Death” with Italy, Germany and England is a great result for the national team.

They will next play a friendly against Greece in November.

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„The most important thing is that I would like to thank Ádám Szalai for what I received from him and congratulate him on his career. I’m disappointed; we wanted to get the point. We have had a dream-like journey and we fought hard today, but now we did not succeed in what we planned,” Hungarian defender Attila Szalai said, according to UEFA’s website.

„Our fans are amazing. It is very difficult to see this in another country. We tried everything, but unfortunately we made mistakes that cost us a lot, since Italy are the European champions. I have no reason to complain about the attitude; we saw the Hungarian heart tonight. I think we have earned the respect of the European teams,” Hungarian coach, Marco Rossi said. The Hungarian team’s coach – who is Italian himself – recalled that the Hungarian fans showed great respect by clapping after the Italian national anthem.

The end of an era – Ádám Szalai retires

Photo: MTI/Kovács Tamás

The Hungarian captain, Ádám Szalai announced last week that he retires from the national team after Monday’s game against Italy. This was his last, and 86th game, overtaking Ferenc Puskás, the legendary captain of the Golden Team. He also overtook Gyula Grosics, the goalkeeper of the Golden Team, taking the seventh place in the all-time rankings.

„A huge thank you to the fans, my colleagues, the staff. My coaching exam will be next Monday; I would like everyone to support me so that I can succeed. A new chapter is coming for me as well and I hope that it will be full of experiences here as well,” Ádám Szalai said. „If we look at where we have come from, then we have to thank Marco Rossi, who together with his staff put together a team that performs beyond its strength. I hope that in the coming years all our young talents will mature and we can continue this journey,” he added.

Marco Rossi said that Ádám Szalai respected the Hungarian national team’s jersey and the country he represented. „He fought like a lion,” the coach added.

Photo: MTI/Szigetváry Zsolt

After singing the Hungarian national anthem once again after the game, Ádám Szalai climbed up tot he viewers’ terrace and thanked the fans for their support. They sang together the refrain of a Hungarian pop song from the 90s, The night should never end (Az éjjel soha nem érhet véget) by Soho Party, which has become a sort of unofficial anthem of the Hungarian national team and its supporters.

Hungarian politicians have also reacted to the game. „Hungarians forever,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wrote on a photo, commenting that „we did not have luck tonight”.

President Katalin Novák has been wrapping up her tour in the USA, so she was „rooting from afar”, watching the game in Kansas City with Dániel Sallói, member of the national football team and forward of Sporting Kansas City.

Featured photo via MTI/Szigetváry Zsolt

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