The Hungarian national team suffered a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Switzerland at the St. Jakob-Park in Basel in their penultimate World Cup 2018 qualifier, meaning that they now require a draw at home to the Faroe Islands on Tuesday to secure third place in Group B.
Switzerland hadn’t put a foot wrong in their qualification campaign going into the match, winning all their first eight matches and giving themselves a fighting chance of pipping Portugal to an automatic place in Russia. Hungary meanwhile, had little to play for from a qualification perspective but did have the motivation of trying to ensure third place in the group and thereby bolster their chances of receiving a strong seeding in the upcoming UEFA Nations League and Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Switzerland began on the front foot, Xherdan Shaqiri firing over from the edge of the box, but the hosts had done little else in the opening minutes to suggest that they’d be comfortably two goals before the half was midway through. That they would be was largely down to two pieces of awful Hungarian luck within as many minutes. First, Granit Xhaka broke the deadlock in the 18th minute, Péter Gulácsi slipping when receiving a Richárd Guzmics backpass and the Arsenal midfielder rounding him to roll the ball into the net. Worse was in store for Hungary two minutes later, Steven Zuber finding Fabian Frei on the left-side of the box, and his low shot deflecting up off Barnabás Bese and into the corner of the net with Gulácsi, this time, helpless.
Hungary’s misfortune continued on the half-hour, right-back Bese being injured during an attack, stretchered off, and replaced by Ádám Lang. Switzerland continued to dominate, Haris Seferovic contriving to miss an open goal from a couple of yards out, but the third goal came two minutes before the break, Xherdan Shaqiri slipping the ball to Zuber, and the midfielder shooting low into the right-hand corner of the net.
The second began as badly for Hungary as the first had finished, Bernd Storck’s team finding themselves 4-0 down in the 48th minute. Again Zuber was the scorer, his 25-yard shot dipping into the roof of the net despite Gulácsi being able to get a hand to it. Switzerland were now playing with freedom, dominating possession and threatening to add to their goal tally as Hungary were in danger of being completely overrun.
Hungary, though, scored next, Richárd Guzmics swivelling to fire home from ten yards in the 59th minute after Yann Sommer had beaten out a Tamás Kádár header after a Varga corner. Indeed, they could have had a second goal with quarter of an hour left to play, Gergő Lovrencsics heading into the grateful arms of Sommer with the goal gaping, after substitute Roland Sallai had set him up.
Switzerland continued to look dangerous as the half wore to a close, with substitutes Embolo and Zakaria in particular looking dangerous, but it was captain and right-back Stephan Litchtsteiner who finally got the fifth with seven minutes left to play, rifling into the far corner from 15 yards with the outside of his right foot after Shaqiri had played him in.
Hungary replied a minute before the final whistle to set a final scoreline of 5-2, Roland Ugrai sending a looping header into the net from eight yards after Sommer had pushed an Ádám Nagy into his path. Switzerland now go into their final match of the campaign needing a draw away to Portugal to top the group, whilst Hungary now take on the Faroe Islands at the Groupama Aréna in Tuesday in their final match, where a draw will see them secure third place in the group.
Switzerland 5-2 Hungary (3-0)
Switzerland: Sommer – Lichtsteiner, Schär, Djourou, Moubandje – Xhaka, Freuler (Derdiyok) – Shaqiri, Frei (Zakaria 73’), Zuber – Seferovic (Embolo 63’)
Hungary: Péter Gulácsi – Barnabás Bese (Ádám Lang 32’), Richárd Guzmics, Tamás Kádár, Mihály Korhut – Ákos Elek (Dávid Márkvárt 56’), Máté Pátkai – Roland Varga (Sallai Roland 68’), Ádám Nagy, Gergő Lovrencsics – Roland Ugrai
Goalscorers: SWI: Xhaka (18’), Frei (20’), Zuber (43’, 49’), Lichtsteiner (83’); HUN: Guzmics (59’), Ugrai (89’)