Making their first appearance since their European Championships final defeat at Wembley, England put in what was a professional display on foreign soil as they stormed their way to a 4-0 romp in Budapest.
53 days after their heartbreaking penalties defeat at Wembley, Gareth Southgate’s side breezed past Hungary as they managed to overcome a hostile home crowd that will once again be facing another investigation after ugly scenes in the second-half.
Taking a giant step towards securing top spot in Group I and booking their place at next year’s World Cup finals, Southgate was right to praise what was a largely dominant display by his side on Thursday night.
With the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Harry Maguire, and Declan Rice all get themselves in on the act, we have taken a look at all the major talking points.
Sterling carries on from the summer
While most of the headlines ahead of Thursday’s meeting at the Puskás Aréna might have been stolen by Jack Grealish making his third international start, Raheem Sterling showed once again why he is one of Southgate’s main men.
Enjoying what was a standout summer as he played a vital role in the Three Lions’ charge to the EURO2020 final, the Manchester City winger proved to be a constant threat and only continued on from his displays earlier in the year.
Spearheading England’s second-half charge and silencing the 60,000 fans in Budapest, the former Liverpool starlet opened the scoring 10 minutes after the interval as he tapped home Mason Mount’s cutback.
Bagging a trio of goals over the summer, Sterling’s strike on Thursday night was in fact the 16th international goal that the 26-year-old has bagged in just his last 24 caps for Southgate’s side across all competitions.
One not enough for Kane
Eventually ending his summer of speculation and deciding to stay put at Tottenham, Harry Kane would have been smelling a golden chance to extend on his qualifying romp when he traveled to the Puskás Aréna on Thursday.
However, while the England skipper might have eventually made it three Group I goals in as many outings with his point-blank header after 63 minutes, the 28-year-old will still be ruing a string of missed opportunities.
Once again dropping deeper and deeper throughout the first-half, Kane had the chance to open the scoring five minutes after the break as he was sent through one on one after Kyle Walker’s slipped pass.
However, bobbling his effort straight at Péter Gulácsi and also missing two more clear-cut chances on either side of his headed goal, Southgate’s attacking talisman will be hoping that he has run off his international rust.
England extend on rampant qualifying record
Just 53 days removed from their penalties defeat against Italy over the summer, many were wondering if England would show some signs of a European hangover as they made the trip to Budapest on Thursday night.
Missing out on their best chance to claim a piece of international silverware since 1996, the Three Lions put in what was an impressive display on foreign soil as they breezed their way to maximum points.
Knowing that their 4-0 romp has almost put one foot in the final of next year’s World Cup, Southgate’s side have won all four of their Group I appearances, and they also extended on a remarkable qualifying run.
Welcoming Andorra to Wembley on Sunday afternoon, England are now unbeaten in each of their last 25 straight World Cup qualifying matchups, a run that stems back to a 1-0 loss against Ukraine in October 2009.
Hungary gets it all wrong
While Hungary might have impressed many with their on-field displays at the summer’s delayed European Championships, Marco Rossi’s side failed to find any sort of form amidst even more controversy from the stands.
Despite managing to snatch eye-catching draws off of both Germany and defending world champions France over the summer, Magyarok completely got their game plan wrong and failed to lay a glove on the Three Lions.
Although Thursday’s hosts might have been boosted by the return of RB Leipzig starlet Dominik Szoboszlai, the Reds could only muster a single shot on goal as second-half sub Dániel Sallói forced Jordan Pickford into a routine save.
Facing another investigation after Uefa ordered them to play three home games behind closed doors after fans were found guilty of discriminatory behaviour, Hungary will be next seen on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Albania.
Hungary: Gulácsi (3), Kecskés (4), Orban (3.5), Szalai (3.5), Bolla (3), Kleinheisler (5), Schäfer (4.5), Fiola (5), Sallai (4), Szoboszlai (3), Szalai (3.5)
Subs: Salloi (5), Varga (4)
England: Pickford (7), Walker (6.5), Stones (6.5), Maguire (7.5), Shaw (7), Phillips (7), Rice (7), Grealish (6), Mount (7), Sterling (8), Kane (6.5)
Subs: Lingard (5), Saka (N/A), Henderson (N/A)
Goals: Sterling 55′, Kane 63′, Maguire 69′, Rice 87′
Yellow Cards: Hungary: Orban, Bolla, Gazdag – England: Rice, Sterling
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Cüneyt Çakir
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