• Matt Johns

Late Portuguese goals break Hungarian Hearts

Defending champions Portugal got off to a winning start against Hungary, netting three goals in the final 11 minutes in a packed Puskas Arena. Talisman Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace, becoming the greatest goalscorer in European Championship history, with Raphael Guerreiro getting the other.

The contest was a rematch from the Euro 2016 group stage, where the honours were split even between the two, following a six-goal thriller in Lyon.

Contrasting to five years ago, where Portugal came out as surprise winners, Fernando Santos’ side look a much more likely outfit to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

Premier League stars including the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva are all coming into the mix, to support the veterans of Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe, to create a formidable Portuguese squad.

In the previous campaign, the fellow group members were Iceland and Austria, with Hungary topping the group and shockingly eventual winners Portugal only went through as a best third place side, drawing all three of their group games.

The holders are going to have to be a lot better this time, as they have been drawn into the group of death with World Champions France and the always dangerous Germany.

Hungary look set for a torrid time, with their only saving grace being the host of games against Portugal and France, in front of a full capacity crowd in Budapest, thanks to the rapid rollout of the vaccine programme in the country.

It was a fairly uneventful game for 80 minutes, with the Portuguese dominating the passage of play, with both Jota and Ronaldo throwing away decent opportunities that came to them in the first half.

As Portugal were pushing for that allusive opener, the game became stretched with Hungary looking a threat on the counter.

This threat was almost capitalised on, when the home side thought that they had taken the lead through Szabolcs Schon, after he smashed the ball past Rui Patricio. However, the Hungarian joy was short lived, with the linesmen correctly raising his flag to rule it out.

Despite this disappointment a point would have been a success for Marco Rossi’s men, but in the 85th minute, it all began to unfold.

A Raphael Guerreiro effort heavily deflected off Willi Orban, to sail past Peter Gulacsi in the Hungarian net.

Things only got worse for Orban and Hungary, as just a minute later he brought down Rafa Silva, to gift Portugal a penalty.

The captain Ronaldo stepped up and smashed the ball home, to double the lead and put his name in the history books once again, becoming the all-time highest goalscorer in Euro history, with his tenth in the championships.

His day wasn’t complete either, as he completed his brace in the closing minutes, finishing off a well worked team goal, to provide the reigning champions with an emphatic victory.

Despite the scoreline looking convincing for the holders, the performance for the majority of the game was not up to scratch and you would feel that the level needs to be lifted by Santos’ men when they travel to Munich, to face Germany on Saturday.

It doesn’t get any better for the Hungarian’s either, as they face another gruelling 90 minutes, this time against Didier Deschamps’ World Champions France.