Stones spares England blushes with equaliser as Kane misfires up front in 1-1 draw with Hungary
By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium
England 1 v Hungary 1
John Stones ensured that the Three Lions remain unbeaten with the equaliser in their World Cup qualifying group I match against tough, dour and disciplined Hungary in a 1-1 draw at Wembley Stadium tonight.
England remain three points clear of second place Poland, but Hungary could have made a late charge for Qatar had they beaten the home side tonight - they almost did.
England went behind to a penalty, on 24 minutes - needlessly given away by Manchester United left back Luke Shaw.
The home side’s blushes were spared by centre-back Stones’s poaching of goal eight minutes before the break.
That was as good as it got for England when it came to goals and attacking prowess.
With striker Harry Kane looking out of sorts, a reflection of his Spurs league form to date, and the guile missing from flair players like Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, Hungary found their low defensive block was highly effective in repelling England.
There was an edge to this game straight from just before the kick-off.
While England players took the knee, the Hungarians remained standing while pointing to the Respect badge on their shirts.
This set the England fans off and within five minutes of the start, there were scuffles in the Hungarian section of the crowd.
This settled fairly quickly
Kane missed a great chance when Luke Shaw pinged the perfect left byline cross on 10 minutes. But the striker was a tad late and, although stretching for the ball, it was deflected away for a corner.
But the visitors remained calm and Roland Sallai could count himself a bit unlucky when he flashed the ball over Jordon Pickford’s crossbar following a quick counter-attack.
This tactic was clearly the one demanded by Hungary boss Marco Rossi, who told Capital Football before kick-off that it would be the realms of science fiction for his side to get a positive result.
The edge resurfaced on 23 minutes when Shaw was justly yellow-carded for a high boot on Loic Nego, just inside the England penalty area.
Spanish referee Alejandro Hernandez rightly pointed to the spot and up stepped Roland Sallai to blast the visitors ahead, sending Pickford the wrong way.
Kane hit the deck in the Hungary penalty five minutes later but Hernandez deemed it a fair challenge for the ball.
With the bit between their teeth, it soon became defending en masse time as the Three Lions, while composed, increased the tempo, searching for that inch or two of space to exploit.
And they were soon rewarded.
After Jack Grealish was up ended on the right. A sublime left-booted free-kick by Phil Foden took a glancing deflection off a Hungary defender, and centre-back John Stones was at the far post to stab home the equaliser on 37 minutes.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
With not much happening attacking wide for the best part of 15 minutes, England manager Gareth Southgate, opted to make a change.
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka replaced Grealish.
This meant Raheem Sterling, who was operating on the right, moved across field.
Sterling needed to show greater composure on 70 minutes when a quick turnover of posession saw the winger fed the ball by Kane.
The Manchester City striker tried a deft touch to put the ball past in-rushing Peter Gulacsi. But he he taken the ball round the goalkeeper, he would have found the net completely empty.
Unfortunately for the England man, Gulacsi snaffled the ball.
With little to cheer the crowd, they resorted to that classic throw the paper aeroplane and hope it reaches the pitch.
It did several times, and the non-Hungarian fans cheers as if a goal was scored. well perhaps not as much, but as a sideshow to the anaemic second-half performance - it was justified.
Misfiring Kane should have scored in 74 minutes, when a deflected ball off a Hungry defender, put Kane onside.
But the Spurs man panicked and thrashed a right-footer into the stand behind the goal. Almost smashing the drum of the England fan band.
That was the last touch for Kane as he was promptly replaced by Ex-Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham.
Jordan Henderson took the place of Sterling.Southgate’s last throw of the die was to bring on Aston Villa striker Olly Watkins.
To be fair Abraham’s had picked up an injury.
Teams: England, Pickford, Walker, Shaw, Rice, Stones, Mings, Grealish, Foden, Kane, Sterling, Mount
Subs: Johnstone, Ramsdale, Trippier, Henderson, Coady, Tomori, Chilwell, Abraham, Saka, Sancho, Ward-Prowse, Watkins
Gulacsi, Lang, Kecskes, Szalai, Nagy, Nego, Szoboszial, Schafer, Schon, Sallai
Subs: Bogdan, Balogh, Salloi, Holender, Bolla, Gazdag, Varga, Vecsei, Hahn, Nikolic
Referee: Alejandro Jose