NORTHERN IRELAND 0-1 HUNGARY 29.3.2022

As Northern Ireland aim to build momentum to try and reach Euro 2024, their first three home games of 2022 will trigger memories of happier times, Euro 2016.

This match, Hungary and the next match, Greece, are self explanatory due to them being in the same qualifying group for Euro 2016.

Those respective matches especially. A 1-1 draw against Hungary in September 2015, their main rivals for automatic qualification and the way it was so dramatically achieved made Northern Ireland fans believe it could actually happen.

Greece’s visit the following month needs no introduction, the night it actually happened.

Even though they didn’t encounter Cyprus during that time, their visit to Belfast will be on Sunday 12th June.

The last time that 12th June fell on a Sunday was in 2016. A lot of us can remember where we were and what we were doing that day. In Nice watching Northern Ireland v Poland in Euro 2016, myself included.

At kick-off, there were two divisions between these two sides in the Nations League, in Hungary’s favour, they in League A and Northern Ireland in League C.

Hungary’s draw isn’t much better than their European Championship draw, with England, Germany and Italy to look forward to.

Despite Northern Ireland being unbeaten in the last two meetings, Hungary have an overall head to head record between the two sides, winning the first four meetings including three at Windsor Park.

For me, it would be my first Northern Ireland since the 0-0 draw against Holland in November 2019. Of course, my exile hasn’t been all self imposed.

Of course, we all know what happened after that, and three the next six home games were behind closed doors, and I was unsuccessful in my application for a ticket for the other three.

When stadiums were allowed to operate at full capacity again, I decided to sit out the World Cup Qualifiers.

This was my first game since moving to the Railway Stand. I wish I had done it a long time ago.

I’m bored of The Kop. It’s basically now The Holyland With Seats.

Uncomfortable truth, but the Pissed By Six crowd are embarrassing.

Not only did I have a great view, but I also enjoyed the novelty of actually going to an outdoor event and not having fag smoke blown into my face.

Long live the Railway Stand.

It looked I would be witnessing a Northern Ireland goal up close, as Gavin Whyte went on a run and created space for himself, only to slip as he was about to shoot. Oh dear.

Within a few minutes, there was even more frustration for Northern Ireland when a misplaced pass fell perfectly for Steven Davis whose curled effort hit the post. I was one of many behind the goal getting ready to celebrate.

Hungary weren’t offering much of an attacking threat in the first-half, the best they could offer was an effort that went just wide.

Northern Ireland’s next attacking moment of note was a shot from Niall McGinn which was turned around for a corner.

0-0 at half-time, but Northern Ireland were the better team despite having nothing to show for it.

I’m hoping that not scoring when attacking the end I sit at isn’t an omen ahead of the next eight matches.

Within minutes of the second-half starting, there was a major talking point when Dion Charles went down under a challenge when running through on goal. I’ve seen them given. I thought this was going to be one of them.

On looking at the replay, the only thing i’ll say is that they get given in midfield.

Northern Ireland were playing well. Almost too well. You knew what was going to happen.

A sloppy backpass from Niall McGinn fell perfectly for Roland Sallai to win a race for the ball and then put it into the empty net.

It was a combination of goals conceded at Windsor Park against Serbia in 2011 and Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2018.

They were both bad and this was bad.

Despite that, we’d seen a lot from Northern Ireland so far in this game to suggest that they could make a comeback.

Shayne Lavery and Trai Hume came off the bench, a debut for Hume.

It took a while initially for Lavery to get into the game, but when he did, he started causing problems for Hungary.

George Savile looked like he was going to equalise but his header from close ranger was saved by Hungary’s keeper.

Trai Hume was next to be frustrated when his header from a Shayne Lavery cross (Oh to see such a combination in a blue shirt at Windsor Park) was saved by Hungary’s keeper.

Right at the end, it was Dion Charles turn to be frustrated, when his close range effort was saved from point blank by the keeper.

Hungary were able to hold out for a win that didn’t really matter, but it would have been nice for Northern Ireland to get the win that didn’t matter.

You couldn’t really say that Northern Ireland played bad. In fact, they played well. It was just that they couldn’t take the chances that came their way. An oh so familiar story.

We’ll win more than we lose with performances like that.

Next up for Northern Ireland, four matches in June in the UEFA Nations League.

It’s a competition that I view as a waste of time, but you might as well get with the programme, especially when you see how beneficial it has worked out for Austria in terms of qualifying draws and getting a World Cup Play-Off. Austria, of course, were in Northern Ireland’s group in the previous two editions.

Northern Ireland are in League C, and the final team in their group was confirmed just under an hour before kick-off in this match when Cyprus beat Estonia.

Funnily enough, I was considering a break in Estonia in May but decided against it due to the situation in Eastern Europe (this was back in late February when I was looking) but I was reconsidering even though June might be a bit more expensive.

Looks like I won’t be going to Estonia in June either.

Can’t say I have any immediate plans to head to Cyprus either.

Elsewhere, the draw for the World Cup Finals took place. Northern Ireland, as ever since 1986, won’t be in it.

One good thing is that the three most exciting looking group games (Argentina v Mexico, Denmark v France, Germany v Spain) will all be taking place on a weekend.

There is an element of frustration as if they had beaten Bulgaria home and way (which they should have done), they would have went into the final group match against Italy just two points behind Italy and Switzerland.

It still would have taken two unlikely results to qualify automatically, and a big effort to get a Play-Off, but it would have been great to be in that situation.

A Play-Off defeat to Portugal would have been preferable to a friendly defeat to Hungary just as getting pumped 5-0 by Spain in the European Championship would have been preferable to sitting at home and watching Slovakia suffer that fate.

Anyway, onto the Nations League to get a bit of momentum ahead of the Euro 2024 Qualifiers.

Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Hungary 2015

One thought on “NORTHERN IRELAND 0-1 HUNGARY 29.3.2022

  1. Pingback: 2022 IN PICTURES – MARCH | Analogue Boy In A Digital World

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