Hungary 0-1 Portugal
In a match that few will revisit as a classic example of Portuguese footballing prowess, the Seleção overcame fiercely stubborn resistance from ten-man Hungary and ran out of Budapest with three crucial points.
André Silva headed home a Cristiano Ronaldo cross in the face of uncompromising treatment from the home side who very nearly snatched a dramatic winner deep in stoppage time.
Just 3 days removed from the resounding 5-1 victory over the Faroe Islands in Porto, Fernando Santos did make several key changes to the starting XI. Despite a wonderful performance on Thursday, William found himself second favorite to Danilo while Fabio Coentrão earned his first cap since October 8th, 2015 in place of Eliseu.
Bernardo Silva was also withdrawn for Gelson, whose scintillating form with Sporting proved too difficult for Fernando Santos to overlook a second time. Santos replaced Fonte with Bruno Alves to address the Hungarian's threat from set pieces.
Both sides initially struggled to gain a foothold in possession but it was Portugal who created the first attacking threat of the match. Ronaldo cut inside from the left and uncorked a wickedly swerving drive that very nearly deceived Gulacsi with its movement, but the Hungarian keeper managed to palm it over the crossbar to safety. Portugal remained in the ascendancy winning a series of corners, and Ronaldo really should have scored in the 8th minute with a glancing header that flashed wide of the right post.
Portugal flatly refused to grant Hungary the space to counterattack with Danilo often involved in wrestling back possession in midfield. The Porto midfielder sliced a shot wide of goal before Moutinho had a gdalbound shot blocked.
But both sides were dealt a blow starting in the 27th minute as Coentrão sustained a left thigh injury and had to be withdrawn for Eliseu. While the match was still in a relative lull following the substitution, Tamas Priskin was shown a straight red card for a deliberate elbow on Pepe leaving the Besiktas defender in a heap with blood trickling from his brow.
Hungary's aggressive and physical approach continued to break the flow of the game as Cédric required medical attention to address a cut on his cheek following an encounter with Dzsudzsak. Despite their man advantage, Portugal labored to break down the Hungarian's stubborn defense but still should have taken the lead as the first half wound to a close. André Silva found space through the left side of the penalty area, but his effort was straight at Gulacsi allowing the keeper to make a routine save.
Santos made no changes to start the second half, and the home side remained in a low block formation to limit goalmouth opportunities. But Portugal forced their way through nonetheless when Ronaldo got free down the left and crossed into the box for André Silva, who risked being kicked in the face to bundle the ball over the line in the 48th minute.
Hungary went for and very nearly found an immediate reply when a poor clearance broke for Patkai to strike his effort just the wrong side of the left upright. Hungary made their first change in the 60th minute and Bernardo Silva was introduced in place of Gelson minutes later to leverage more pressure on the Hungarian backline.
João Mário got loose down the left but his cross was cut out at the vital moment. Portugal lowered the passing tempo to that of a routine training session, but Hungary refused to chase the match in spite of their need for points. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Cédric's cross was deflected into the path of Ronaldo but his goalbound effort was superbly blocked by Fiola.
Hungary very nearly found the most unlikeliest of equalizers at the death, but in the end Hungary's crude, overly physical approach was insufficient to deter Portugal from securing all three points. It was a contemptuous affair that will hardly have endeared the two sides to each other, but Portugal remain on the same collision course with Switzerland that they have traveled since the opening match of qualification.
Danilo, Cédric, and the Portuguese defensive effort was superb in preventing any meaningful threat to Patricio's goal while Gelson may yet lament his inability to assert himself in a match that seemed well suited for his particular brand of football. Moutinho, though unspectacular, was efficient in his role as midfield manager while Ronaldo once again proved to be the creative outlet that Portugal desperately needed to overcome the resolute home side. Fabio Coentrão's untimely injury and Eliseu's subsequent performance will once again painfully remind Portugal fans of the glaring hole at left-back in the absence of Raphael Guerreiro.
Portugal will travel to Andorra for their penultimate match of World Cup qualification on October 7th.
by Nathan Motz
Hungary: Peter Gulacsi, Attila, Richard Guzmics, Tamas Kadar, Mihaly Korhut, Gergo Lovrenscsics (Roland Varga, 78'), Balazs Dzsudzsak, Mate Patkai, Akos Elek (Pinter, 68'), Tamas Priskin, Marton Eppel (Daniel Bode, 61')
Portugal: Patrício, Cédric, Pepe, Alves, Coentrão (Eliseu, 28'), Danilo, João Moutinho, João Mário, Gelson (Bernardo Silva, 63'), André Silva (Ricardo Quaresma, 86'), Ronaldo
[0-1] André Silva, 48’