Hungary slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Montenegro in Podgorica on Thursday evening but there were plenty of positives to take from an encouraging team performance.
Head coach Marco Rossi opted to try out several fringe players in a new, diamond formation for this international friendly ahead of Monday’s crucial Euro 2020 qualifier at home to Slovakia. Dénes Dibusz started in goal with a back four of Mihály Korhut, Botond Baráth, Ádám Lang and Barnabás Bese behind debutant Dániel Gazdag at the base of the midfield diamond. The Honvéd central midfielder was flanked by Dominik Nagy on the left and captain Krisztián Németh on the right with Dávid Holman in a roving attacking-midfield role and Filip Holender ploughing a lone furrow upfront.
Holender, making his fourth national-team appearance, hit the ground running and slotted the ball into the net to give Hungary a second-minute lead after good work by Korhut, Németh and Dominik Nagy down the left side of the pitch. Playmaker Holman nearly doubled Hungary’s early advantage two minutes later, only for his right-footed free-kick from 25 metres to clip the crossbar on its way over.
Dibusz made two excellent saves in the first 23 minutes, the first thanks to his positioning in the eighth minute when Aleksandar Boljević crossed from the right for Fatos Bećiraj to head powerfully but straight at the Ferencváros goalkeeper in the centre of the goal. Fifteen minutes later, Neboja Kosovic’s toe-poke across penalty area set Adam Marušić free in the right channel but Dibusz narrowed the angle sufficiently to ensure the Montenegrin number 23 found it too difficult to steer the ball past his body.
The hosts found their way back into the match just after the half-hour mark though, Bećiraj’s pass back from the right channel to Vukan Savićević inside the area being flicked back with the latter’s right heel to Kosović for the forward to curl the ball first-time from outside the box into the unguarded right side of Dibusz’s goal.
The match was very much an even affair at this point, as indeed it would remain throughout, but Hungary nearly went into half-time with their lead restored as Holender’s 42nd-minute free-kick from the right was headed just wide of the far left post from 14 metres by Krisztián Németh. Rossi opted to make three substitutions at the break, one of which saw Dávid Sigér become the 1000th footballer to represent the Hungarian men’s national team.
The changes seemed to be having the desired effect when, in the 53rd minute, Korhut played the ball inside to another substitute Kovács who exchanged passes with Dominik Nagy and found himself in on goal, but Montenegro substitute goalkeeper Daniel Petkovic did well to divert the Fehérvár forward’s shot wide and behind for a corner. Hungary’s third debutant of the match, János Ferenczi, came on for Korhut just after the hour before a foul on the impressive Dávid Holman in the 68th minute gave Hungary another chance to score from a set-piece. However, Petkovic was equal to Dzsudzsák’s low, outswinging free-kick.
The match swung decisively in the home side’s favour in the 74th minute though when Lang was adjudged to have clipped another replacement Stefan Mugoša just inside the penalty area, the Montegrin striker dispatching the resultant penalty firmly down the centre of the goal to hand his side a 2-1 lead with a quarter of an hour remaining. Hungary could count themselves unlucky to have fallen behind but despite plenty of effort there seemed to be no way back to parity at this late stage.
In the 93rd minute, Dibusz somehow plunged to his left and clawed a shot away when it seemed the ball had already gone past him to keep his side in the game, but there was no more time to mount another attack and thus Rossi’s team were forced to depart with a result which didn’t reflect the positivity of the overall performance.
Montenegro 2-1 Hungary
HUN: Dibusz; Bese, Lang, Baráth (Willi Orbán, 46′), Korhut (János Ferenczi, 61′); Gazdag (István Kovács, 46′), Holman; Németh, Kleinheisler (Dávid Sigér, 46′), Dominik Nagy (Balázs Dzsudzsák, 68′); Holender (Roland Varga, 64′).
Goalscorers: MON: Kosovic (32′), Mugosa (75′, pen), HUN: Holender (2′).