Attila Fiola will feature prominently in every flagship reel ever produced regarding Euro 2021.
The Hungarian winger’s first game in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against world champions France is already destined to be remembered as one of the tournament’s golden moments. It just wasn’t in the script, and that’s what made it so beautiful.
What 37th-ranked Hungary lacked was made up for in persistence, courage and determination – all of this combined earned the Hungarians a surprise point that keeps their qualifying hopes alive ahead of the final game against Germany.
Make no mistake: the home side – and their fans – deserved the draw. In a world still socially distanced due to the pandemic, the packed stadium in Budapest was truly an incredible sight to see. You’re unlikely to hear a louder roar than the one that greeted Fiola’s big goal just before the break.
Nobody expected Hungary to score, of course. France had won its last five games in all competitions without conceding once. After starting their Euro campaign with an impressive 1-0 victory over Germany, the Blues had to sweep their hosts away with a minimum of fuss.
However, Hungary had already shown that they are not just there to catch up by frustrating Portugal for 84 minutes in their first game of the tournament. Coach Marco Rossi’s team were once again resilient and well organized, although French striker Karim Benzema, who has never scored in the European Championship, should have given the Blues the lead after being brilliantly put together by Mbappe in the first half.
Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann were also constant threats, but Hungary dug deep, defended in numbers and did a great job of keeping the world champions at bay.
“We had great opportunities in the first half,” French coach Didier Deschamps said after the TF1 game. “We had chances to score, but we didn’t. It’s football. They had next to nothing too.”
But Hungary made a change and the pace of hard work by the whole team, and the deafening roar inside the stadium, was what fueled them.
“It was a tough game in front of a local crowd,” Griezmann told beIN Sports. “We lost our way with the stadium full, we couldn’t go there. The pitch was dry and it was very hot. We couldn’t find each other or put aside the chances we had in the first half. we paid. But there are great players everywhere and even against Hungary, it’s difficult. ”
Fiola’s fine finish in stoppage time in the first half was, admittedly, just a reward for Hungary’s heroism, but there was still that nagging feeling that the quality of France would end up translating into a goal.
MORE: Hungarian striker destroys journalists’ table after goal
The post had previously refused French substitute Ousmane Dembele to equalize when Griezmann leveled things at close range, after Hungary failed to properly erase a reduction from Mbappe. It was the Barcelona striker’s seventh goal at the Euro – only Cristiano Ronaldo (11) and Michel Platini (9) have scored more in the history of the competition.
A strong hand from Hungarian goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi denied Mbappe as the clock approached 90, with the Hungarians putting their bodies on the line to try and block every shot on goal.
France will be frustrated not having found a winner after 15 attempts and Deschamps went on to argue that his players struggled with the heat.
“That’s a point. It’s obviously not what we were hoping for, but given the context, we’ll take it anyway,” Deschamps said.
“Am I worried? No. We have the squad to react,” Griezmann said after the game. “We know we have the players to make a difference at all times.”
The whole speech will be about France’s failure to win, but Hungary was the pride of the nation, and as Hungarian fans danced outside the Puskas Arena exits, a deafening chorus of Ria Ria Hungaria could still be heard. heard in the arena.
The atmosphere is likely to be as unforgettable as Fiola’s goal.