Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hungary, Switzerland and Andorra September 2014

An Hungarian second level game followed by three Euro 2016 qualification matches each involving teams from the home countries.

6th September  Vasas 2 Ajka 0  Hungarian NB2   2,000 (10 away ?)

Vasas are another one of those Hungarian clubs that have a fine history with league and Mitropa Cup wins plus a home victory against Real Madrid in a 1957-8 European Cup semi-final (which was played in the Nep stadium before 100,000)

Now they are going well in the Hungarian 2nd division and this was their fourth league win in a row.

They started quickly and scored though their captain Mohamed Remili following a one-two.
It then looked like they would overwhelm Ajka but it didn’t happen.
Some chances were missed and there was just one more goal - a straightforward header from a cross from the right.

Ajka mostly played to keep the score down but they did have a good opportunity to get one back when a forward was through on goal but his shot clipped the post.

The Stadion Rudolf Illovsky, in a northern area of Budapest, has been partly updated but still retains old, open, seats/terrace.

I enjoyed a breadstick and a coke before the match and an irish coffee later on.

Back near my hotel the hip-hop fans were going home after the Heroes Square festival had finished.

The next day I took in some culture at the Museum of Fine Arts including an impressively presented exhibition from Ancient Egypt.

7th September 2014  Hungary 1 Northern Ireland 2  20,672  (c. 1,000 away)

This Euro 2016 qualifier was played in the revamped Ferencvaros stadium (Groupama Arena)

A good number of Northern Irish fans made the trip and they would certainly have enjoyed this first away win for four years and their first victory against the Hungarians.

The game was significantly affected by the substitutions with ‘snake’ Priskin heading in from a corner for the opener before Aberdeen player McGinn converted a cross after excellent work by striker Kyle Lafferty.

That same combination would work in reverse for the winner as Lafferty bundled the ball in from close range in the final minutes.
It was a minor triumph for the Northern Irish who after equalising kept looking for a decider against a limited Hungarian team.

The home crowd went home unhappy after a creating plenty of noise earlier - the away fans probably headed for the bars.

8th September  Switzerland 0 England 2  Basel  35,500 (c.2,000 away)

I took a mid-morning Easyjet flight to Basel for another qualifier.

You could now say England have now made it to France 2016 after overcoming what would seem to be the hardest match in their qualifying group.

It could have been different if Gary Cahill had not cleared a Drmic effort off the line in the second half.
But he did and Joe Hart also made some blocks against a Swiss side whose star man Shaqiri had few chances to impress.

After a moderate first half England played better in the second benefiting from a Swiss error for Sterling to escape down the left and cross for Welbeck to convert.

The second goal in the final minute again resulted from a breakaway with sub. Lambert setting up Welbeck (the new Arsenal striker) to score his second.

So job done for England who are, inevitably, not quite as bad as some have portrayed but probably not at the top level either.

I strolled back to my hotel stopping for a weiss beer along the way.

9th September Andorra 1 Wales 2    c. 2,000 (c. 1,000 away)

My third Euro 2016 qualifier was in Andorra and again it resulted in an away win for a team from the home countries.
Albeit not without some concern as the Welsh, aiming for a first-ever appearance at the Euros, struggled to overcome the spirited efforts of the minnows of Andorra.

I’d taken a Swiss flight from Basel, eventually picked up a hire car, and driven through the undulating countryside, through numbers of tunnels, to the tiny Pyrenean principality.
Where I struggled to find the stadium (and somewhere to park)

It’s shoehorned into the centre amongst the shops and the mountains.

Again there was very good away support in one end and part of the side - the national anthem being particularly impressive.
Unlike most of the performance of the Welsh team.

It took their star man, Gareth Bale, to deliver the victory.
First with a neat header, then a ‘trademark’ free kick near the end did the job.

That prompted some ecstatic celebrations (but it was only Andorra !?) and a slight pitch incursion by the fans behind the goal.

Much earlier the home side had led with a penalty following a dubious decision for holding.

And they did more than just defend, getting forward a lot more than (say) San Marino.
They could possibly trouble others in the group, particularly at home on the artificial pitch.

Meanwhile Wales will have to step it up if they expect to qualify given the more difficult tests to come.

I climbed up the hill and drove back to my hotel in Manresa before driving on the next morning to Barcelona airport for my return flight to the UK.

more pictures at

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