World champions France were unable to confirm their place in the Euro 2020 knockout stages as they were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by Hungary amid a raucous atmosphere in Budapest.
Hungary frustrated Portugal for 84 minutes before their defence was breached in their opening game and they gave France an almighty scare in Saturday’s clash in front of a deafening home crowd, which saw them rewarded with a point.
After squandering a few big chances, France’s run of 527 minutes without conceding was ended by Attila Fiola’s goal just before half-time at the packed Puskas Arena.
Antoine Griezmann fired in a leveller with 66 minutes played, but Les Blues – who saw a late penalty appeal dismissed – could not find a winning goal and had to settle for a point that leaves them waiting on their place in the last 16.
Antoine Griezmann at this tournament:
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 19, 2021
Peter Gulacsi made a brilliant save after 14 minutes to keep out Griezmann from close range, but the offside flag likely would have denied the forward had he scored.
Kylian Mbappe then sent a free header spinning wide after being picked out by Lucas Digne and Karim Benzema miscued off target from an even bigger chance soon after.
Those missed opportunities came back to haunt France as Fiola was played in behind down the left after a one-two with Roland Sallai and coolly converted past Hugo Lloris.
The introduction of Ousmane Dembele around the hour mark gave France, for whom Olivier Giroud also came off the bench to make his 100th appearance under Didier Deschamps, a spark and the Barcelona forward struck the outside of the post two minutes after coming on.
France’s pressure told seven minutes later when Mbappe – spotted by a Lloris pass – teed up Griezmann with the help of a scuffed Willi Orban clearance for a simple finish.
— French Team (@FrenchTeam) June 19, 2021
Mbappe guided a Griezmann delivery into the side netting and Gulacsi was alert to Mbappe’s next attempt as France, whose appeals for a stoppage-time spot-kick following some shirt grabbing at a set-piece were denied, failed to find a winner.
What does it mean? France given reality check
France were the favourites of many to follow their World Cup 2018 success and win this year’s European Championships, but this performance and result may have some reconsidering their predictions.
Les Blues lacked composure in front of goal, scoring from just one of their 15 shots, and were undone by a rare attack by a Hungary side ranked 37th in the world.
An even bigger upset was prevented by Griezmann’s strike, but France will now potentially head into their final group game with Portugal needing a result to make certain of a place in the next round, depending on the result between the reigning European champions and Germany later on Saturday.
Griezmann finds a way
Griezmann rescued France with his seventh goal at the Euros – the other six of those coming in 2016 – which puts him behind only Cristiano Ronaldo (11) and Michel Platini (nine) in terms of the competition’s all-time top scorers.
The Barcelona forward scored from his only attempt of the game, whereas Mbappe failed to find a way through from any of his six shots – equalling the most efforts he has ever had for the national side.
France defence exposed
France had kept a clean sheet in their last five matches before Fiola struck, becoming the oldest player at 31 years and 122 days to score against Les Blues in a Euros match since Rui Jordao for Portugal in 1984.
Benjamin Pavard was caught out by a simple give-and-go between Fiola and Sallai, while Raphael Varane – shaky throughout – was reluctant to foul the goalscorer in the box, showing that France can indeed be got at.
Key Opta Facts
– France remain unbeaten in their last nine matches at major tournaments (W7 D2 – World Cup and Euros), although this draw ended their five-match winning run at such competitions.
– Hungary have never lost any of their four European Championship matches in which they have scored the opening goal (W2 D2).
– This was the first time that Hungary avoided defeat to France in any competition since May 1976, when they beat them 1-0 in a friendly, ending a five-match losing run against Les Bleus.
– Attila Fiola’s opener for Hungary was the first time France had conceded in six matches in all competitions, ending a run of 527 minutes of play without shipping a goal.
– France are unbeaten in their last 11 group-stage games at major tournaments (World Cup and Euros), winning seven and drawing four since a 2-0 loss to Sweden at Euro 2012.
France stay in Budapest for their final Group F game against Portugal on Wednesday, the same day and time that Hungary face Germany in Munich.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!