Instead of putting on a show for their fans, England were subjected to their heaviest defeat on home soil since 1928, succumbing to a 4-0 loss at the hands of the Hungarians. A Roland Sallai brace, alongside goals from Zsolt Nagy and Daniel Gazdag, guaranteed Hungary’s second Nations League win.
The embarrassing defeat at home left England in fourth place with two points after four rounds of fixtures. Hungary sit at the top of the standings with seven points, while Germany (six points) and Italy (five points) occupy the second and third places, respectively.
England enjoyed a bright start to the game and created their first big chance after only six minutes of play. Reece James put in an inviting cross inside the Hungarian box, which was strenuously met by West Ham United star Jarrod Bowen. His headed effort, however, was straight at winger Zsolt Nagy, who cleared it off the line.
Ten minutes later, the visitors lodged their first effort on goal, which ended up hitting the back of the net. Sallai made the most of a free-kick delivery to sneak behind the English defense and apply a volleyed finish. England tried looking for a reply, but could not play their natural game courtesy of Hungary’s relentless pressing.
In the 70th minute, Sallai doubled his and Hungary’s tally, latching on to a sumptuous Martin Adam throughball. His low drive found its way past Aaron Ramsdale. Phil Foden came close to cutting the deficit just six minutes later, with his low shot drifting marginally wide of the Hungarian goal.
Harry Kane then connected with Mason Mount’s teasing cross seconds later. Unfortunately for the hosts, the crossbar denied the Tottenham Hotspur star’s thumping header.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, Zsolt Nagy scored Hungary’s third against the run of play, prompting the home supporters to jeer their countrymen on the pitch. In the 82nd minute, John Stones was sent off for a foul on Daniel Gazdag.
Playing with a man down, England conceded another in the 89th minute. Gazdag applied a cheeky finish to loop the ball over the onrushing Raamsdale and into the back of the net, making it a night to forget for the Three Lions.
With only five months remaining before the World Cup, the 4-0 defeat is bound to give Gareth Southgate many sleepless nights.
On that note, here are five English players who were particularly disappointing in Tuesday night’s embarrassment.
#5 Aaron Ramsdale
Courtesy of his impressive display against Italy, Ramsdale got the nod to start against Hungary.
The Arsenal goalkeeper, however, failed to reward Southgate’s faith, dishing out a rather poor performance.
Hungary only had five shots on target over the course of the match, four of which ended up in the back of the net.
Ramsdale was beaten twice at his near post and most definitely should have done better to keep Hungary’s third goal out, which was hit straight at him.
#4 Bukayo Saka
Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka started on the left side of the English attack on Tuesday night.
He offered precious little down the flank, failing to create even a single chance.
Against Hungary, Saka had only one shot, which, too, veered off target. He misplaced four of five attempted crosses, lost three of four ground duels and both his aerial duels, and ceded possession 13 times.
Following Stones’ red card, Saka was sacrificed for Harry Maguire in the 85th minute.
#3 Kyle Walker
Kyle Walker endured a horrendous night on the right flank on Tuesday. He struggled to hold his ground, did not create chances, and was time and again exposed by Hungary’s pace.
The Manchester City full-back could not show the leadership Southgate needed him to, often cutting a dejected figure.
Over the course of the match, Walker did not even play a single key pass, lost three of four ground duels, and ceded possession 13 times.
He was also booked for a needless foul on Loic Nego in the 86th minute.
#2 John Stones
Manchester City centre-back John Stones had a night to forget on Tuesday.
He was beaten by Adam Lang in the air, failing to clear the 16th-minute free-kick delivery out of harm’s way. The ball found its way to Sallai, who cleverly put it away.
Stones also lost track of Nego, who headed towards Ramsdale’s goal. His effort was blocked, but the rebound fell to Adam, who set up Zsolt Nagy with ease.
Stones then received his marching orders in the 82nd minute following a foul on Gazdag, turning the situation from bad to worse. The second yellow was indeed harsh, but Stones’ performance up to that point wasn’t anything to write home about.
Stones, who lost five duels and ceded possession six times, simply lacked the maturity to deal with Hungary at the Molineux Stadium.
#1 Kalvin Phillips
Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips was all over the place against Hungary on Tuesday night.
He was outpaced, outmuscled, and outsmarted by the visitors, failing to provide the cover the Three Lions’ defenders needed.
He completely lost Sallai for the opening goal, allowing him to apply an easy close-range finish. Phillips then miscontrolled the ball in the 70th minute, helping Adam steal it and assist Sallai for his second.
The 26-year-old also lost 12 ground duels, ceded possession 12 times, committed four fouls, and was dribbled past five times.