Hungary began their first European Championship since 1972 with an impressive 2-0 victory against 10-man Austria in group stage match here on Tuesday.
Both goals were scored in the second half with Adam Szalai breaking the deadlock in the 63rd minute and Zoltan Stieber making it 2-0 three minutes from regulation time.
Hungary made the breakthrough in the 62nd minute in the Group F clash as Szalai collected a super pass from Laszlo Kleinheisler before finishing under goalkeeper Robert Almer from close range. It was the first goal in 41 matches for Szalai.
To compound Austria’s problems, they were soon down to 10 men as Aleksandar Dragovic was booked for the second time in the match to get evicted three minutes after the goal.
Both a goal and a man down, Austria had no other choice but to push forward for the equalizing goal, leaving big gaps at the back.
However Hungary utilised the vacant spaces perfectly, grabbing an opportune moment to launch a swift counter attack from the other half of the pitch that was given an apt ending by Stieber.
The 27-year-old scored with an exquisite chip over the charging Austrian keeper.
But it wasn’t all doom for Austria at the start. Bayern Munich’s David Alaba was the main creator for Austria. The defender nearly began the match strongly, hitting the upright from 25 yards to give Hungary a scare as early as the first minute but his left footer hit the bottom of the right post.
He went close again in the 10th minute. He followed a through ball from Marko Arnautovic but his prompt left footer went straight to goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly, who at 40 years and 75 days, became the oldest player to take part in the tournament. He improved on German legend Lothar Matthaus’ record, who was 39 years and 91 days when Germany played Portugal at Euro 2000.
This match was the 138th meeting between Austria and Hungary in all competitions, but just one of the previous 137 came in the finals of a tournament.