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Hungary’s Under-17s qualify for European Championship

Hungary’s Under-17s qualify for European Championship

Hungary’s Under-17 team defeated Norway 1-0 courtesy of a last-gasp wonder-strike from Dominik Szoboszlai, a result which sees them qualify for the Uefa European Under-17 Championship finals in Croatia as group winners.

Hungary’s campaign in the Elite round of the Uefa European Under -17 Championship qualifiers had, going into the final round of matches, been a story of late goals; Ilay Hen bagging a 79th minute winner for Israel on matchday one and Dominik Szoboszlai scoring with direct free-kicks in the 74th and 84th minutes as Hungary came from behind to defeat Russia 2-1 at the new Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion on matchday two.

For Norway – with a draw and a victory in their first two matches – a draw would have sufficed for qualification, whereas Zoltán Szélesi’s charges required victory to be sure of progressing. Neither team undertook too risky a strategy in the first half, Norway content to sit back and primarily look to score from set-piece situations whereas Hungary, although showing more attacking intent, found it hard to carve out clear goalscoring opportunities.

The closest the hosts came was midway through the half when team captain Dominik Szoboszlai shot wide of goal, and then just before the half-time whistle when Szabolcs Schön fired straight at Norway goalkeeper Mads Christiansen.

Norman Timári almost broke the deadlock early in the second half, his low shot being blocked by Christiansen after a rapid Hungarian counter-attack. Christiansen then palmed a Schön effort round the post for a corner not long after, but Hungary found it increasingly difficult to break down a resolute Norway team seemingly content to sit back and see the game out for the draw they needed.

At the other end, Norway squandered a guilt-edged opportunity to open the scoring in the 71st minute, Balázs Ásvány making a fine save to somehow keep out a point-blank Erik Botheim effort and keep Hungary in the game. Then, with less than a minute of time-added-on to go, the ball was rolled back from the right to Dominik Szoboszlai. He struck the ball first-time from just outside the box, sending an inch-perfect, curling shot into the top left-hand corner of the net to send Hungary into dreamland, and the Uefa European Under-17 Championship in Croatia, the first time they have qualified for the tournament in eleven years.

A delighted head coach Zoltán Szélesi, speaking after the match, said that “I congratulate my team and all the coaching staff that a Hungarian U17 team has qualified for a European Championship for the first time in eleven years. The team’s performances have improved step-by-step over the past eighteen months, even though we’ve been facing increasingly strong opposition. I’m delighted that we’ve perhaps shown our best form in the game against Norway and were able to defeat opponents who had been unbeaten. I’m especially happy that we won both the Russia and Norway matches late on, after more than matching them physically. This of course doesn’t mean we’ve reached the end of our journey; indeed, it’s only really beginning now”.

Norway 0-1 Hungary (0-0)

Hungary: Balázs Ásványi – Krisztián Kovács, Gergő Bolla (Balázs Opavszky, 41’), Attila Mocsi, Martin Majnovics – Dominik Szoboszlai, András Csonka – Krisztofer Szerető (Szendrei Norbert, 71’), Szabolcs Schön, Kevin Csoboth –Norman Tímári

Goalscorer: Szoboszlai (83’)

Source: MLSZ – press release

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