The Hungarian Under-17 team have qualified for the World Cup finals in Brazil later this year after defeating Belgium 5-4 on penalties in their European Championship 5th-place playoff following a 1-1 draw at Tolka Park, Dublin.
Having suffered the heartbreak of losing to Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals on Monday, Sándor Preisinger’s Hungary faced Belgium – with whom they had already locked horns with in the elite round in Telki this April – for fifth place, and, more importantly, a berth at the Under-17 World Cup later this year.
Belgium had won that April encounter comfortably 4-2, albeit there was little at stake with both teams having already qualified for the finals in Ireland. Both teams also won their respective groups at the finals, Hungary defeating Portugal, Iceland and Russia, and Belgium drawing with the Czech Republic and Ireland, and beating Greece. Hungary then lost out on penalties to Spain in the last-eight following a 1-1 draw, whilst Belgium fell 3-0 to the Netherlands.
Sándor Preisinger was without three key players for the match, Patrik Posztobányi, Dávid László and Gergő Ominger unavailable due to suspension, Roland Bekker coming back in at left-back, and György Komáromi and Sámuel Major filling the midfield.
Hungary began brightly, Major and Mihály Kata both having attempts on goal in the opening minutes. Belgium were gaining the upper hand by the middle of the half however, hitting the woodwork twice through Jérémy Landu and Rob Nizet, whilst Hungary were content to try and hit their opponents on the counter, András Németh coming closest when he was denied by Maarten Vandevoordt in the 36th minute.
Mihály Kata came close to giving Hungary the lead early in the second half, Vandevoordt again thwarting the effort, and it was Belgium who broke the deadline in the 56th minute when Chris Kaulika scored from close-range at the back post following a free kick. Hungary though, kept their heads and levelled five minutes later, Bekker finding Gábor Buna on the right and his front-post cross being met by György Komáromi who nodded past Vandevoordt.
Krisztián Hegyi saved a long-range Mathias De Wolf effort, and then had to deal with attempts by Kalulika and Tibo Persyn, whilst at the other end Vandevoordt denied Major once more, but with no further goals, penalty kicks were required to separate the teams.
Hungary had lost their quarter-final 5-4 to Spain on penalties, Spanish goalkeeper Ivan Martínez saving András Németh’s fifth spot-kick for Hungary and Pablo Moreno scoring Spain’s fifth. This time round it was Hungary’s opponents who kicked first, Killian Sardella and Rob Nizet scoring Belgium’s first two penalties, and Komáromi and Szabolcs Szalay doing so for Hungary before De Wolf struck the woodwork with Belgium’s third. Substitute Rajmund Molnár put Hungary 3-2 up, and although Thibo Baeten and Jérémy Doku scored Belgium’s fourth and fifth, Major and then Ákos Zuigeber held their nerve to fire Hungary into the Under-17 world Cup in Brazil.
“I’m immensely proud of the team because what they have achieved at this tournament deserves all the plaudits. We performed better and better from match to match, and we deservedly defeated a Belgian team which had beaten us in Telki this April. As regards the match, we were disciplined throughout and kept to our tactics. The players also fought for every ball and gave the maximum. It goes to show our mental strength that we came back within minutes from going a goal down, and we also had chances to win the match. We really worked hard for this victory and finally we came out the victors after a penalty shoot-out” said Sándor Preisinger after the match.
Hungary 1-1 Belgium (HT: 0-0) – Hungary win 5-4 on penalties
Goalscorers: HUN: Komáromi (61’); BEL: Kalulika (56’)
Hungary: Krisztián Hegyi – Gábor Buna (Szabolcs Szalay, 90+4’), Milán Horváth, Botond Balogh, Roland Bekker – Márk Kosznovszky, Sámuel Major, Mihály Kata, György Komáromi – András Németh (Rajmund Molnár, 82’), Ákos Zuigeber