England could not do better than a draw (1-1) with Hungary, at Wembley on Tuesday, in a qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar when it would have almost ensured its qualification in case of success.
With three points ahead of Poland, victorious in Albania (1-0), the Three Lions remain however well placed since they will receive the Albanians (3rd to 5 points) before moving to San Marino in the last two days, while Poland will go to Andorra and receive Hungary.
Overall it will be an evening for England to forget, starting with the incidents which briefly pitted the English police against Hungarian supporters in the stands at the very start of the match.
Arrived to arrest a supporter of the visitors' stand who had uttered racist insults against a steward, the police officers were taken to task by some violent fans who tried to beat them while they were being pushed back with telescopic batons.
The vast majority of the few thousand people in this part of the stadium remained focused on the game and the whole lasted only six or seven minutes.
But Hungary had already been sanctioned with a closed-door match and a fine by Fifa after the first leg between the two teams, during which English players had been targeted by racist cries.
Unconvincing offensive strategy
Unfortunately, the game did not really cheer up the English.
Since their last defeat against this opponent in 1962 (2-1), they had yet been led only seven minutes in fourteen matches, during a meeting in 2010. Tuesday evening, they were for thirteen minutes , almost double.
Three Lions coach Gareth Southgate not reassured by his team against Hungary at Wembley, October 12, 2021 Ben STANSALL AFP
Time for John Stone to resume at the far post a fleeting free kick from Phil Foden (1-1, 37 ') and erase the advantage taken by the Hungarians thanks to a penalty from Roland Sallai (0-1, 24').
Stone's equalizer came on the Three Lions' first shot on target, which says a lot about the difficulty they have had so far to break through the dense double curtain that Hungary has pitted against them in defense.
Gareth Southgate had yet opted for a daring composition that supporters and observers demand from him since well before Euro-2020, by establishing five attacking players.
Phil Foden and Mason Mount made up the high points of a mid-to-three behind Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Jack Grealish in an eleven with strong sky blue coloring, since five Manchester City players were holders, unheard of.
England striker Jack Grealish stumbles over Hungary defender Akos Kecskes in the 1-1 draw between the two sides at Wembley on October 12, 2021 Ben STANSALL AFP
Unfortunately, the experimentation was not really convincing, the movements and the combinations not seeming to be completely mastered.
Significantly, Harry Kane, who failed to score for the first time in fifteen playoff games, was almost never found in the box.
We will have to wait for the match against Albania in November to see if it is a change in Southgate's philosophy or a choice of circumstance, but the stake may well take precedence over the game that day. .
© 2021 AFPKeywords: england, qualification, case, hungary, wembley, draw, match, task, success, police officers, qatar, world cup, london, players, gareth southgate