Adam Szalai’s sublime finish kept Hungary on course for the Nations League Finals as they beat Germany 1-0 in Leipzig.
Captain Szalai struck almost midway through the first half on Friday to give his side an impressive victory that keeps them two points clear at the top of Group A3.
Marco Rossi’s side will qualify for next year’s Finals if they avoid defeat at home to Italy on Monday, with the European champions having beaten England 1-0 at San Siro.
It was another memorable evening for Hungary at the Red Bull Arena, while this was Germany’s first defeat under Hansi Flick with the World Cup looming and their hopes of winning the tournament are over.
From the first whistle, Hungary showed a proactive intent, tackling their hosts head-on with great intensity, and their approach was rewarded when Germany were caught napping from a corner 17 minutes in.
Few appeared to expect Szalai’s to attack the near the edge of the six-yard box, and the forward’s delightful flick to convert Dominik Szoboszlai’s delivery sailed beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s grasp and into the far corner of the net for a worthy lead.
Germany thought they had equalised through Thomas Muller’s strike shortly after the restart, but the goal was ruled out as Jonas Hoffman was offside.
That was as close as Flick’s side came to salvaging a point as Hungary held on to keep their fate in their own hands heading into a decisive final group game.
Hungary beat Germany for the first time since 2004
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) September 23, 2022
What does it mean? Hungary on brink of surprise qualification
Back-to-back European Championship appearances in 2016 and 2020 – and now, Hungary are on the cusp of reaching the Nations League Finals for the first time after a first win over Germany for 18 years.
Written off when the draw was made, they have beaten England twice and now Germany to leave themselves only needing a point to advance from a strong group. Germany are third ahead of a clash with an England side that have been relegated and this was their first defeat
Germany lack a cutting edge
Once Hungary had their goal, they shut up shop, frustrating their hosts to claim another big scalp.
Germany had 72.5 per cent of possession, but that counted for nothing as they fired a blank and lost for the first time in the Flick era.
Leipzig fortress shattered
Heading into Friday’s encounter, Germany had found Leipzig to be a happy hunting ground, with 11 consecutive wins.
They fell short of a dozen and will be eager to respond when they take on England.
Hungary return home for a seismic clash with Italy, while Germany lock horns with Gareth Southgate’s men at Wembley.
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