Italy – Hungary
Italy were continuing their pre World Cup promotional tour, and this time around the venue would be the second southernmost of their ten destinations selected: Taranto, a port city in the south east of the country, not far away from Lecce, a town containing a Serie A team at the time. Taranto FC were struggling afoot Serie B, the second tier of Italian football. Their supporters were renowned for their passion, and their stadium would welcome both sets of players on a sunny, yet windy, afternoon, supporters indeed displaying their noisy nature, bouncing along the terraces in order to bring a lot of life to the Iacovone.
Played only four days after a dour 1-1 draw with Uruguay, this was Italy’s fifth international of 1989, and their record so far read two wins, a draw, and that 1-0 defeat in Romania. With the opening of the World Cup just over 13 months away, it did seem about time to step the preparations up a notch. Their four previous internationals of ’89 had only yielded three goals, so Azeglio Vicini would be looking for their more attacking players to come to the fore. Hungary did seem an opponent they would be able to come to terms with, even if the new manager Bertalan Bicskei’s so far three matches long tenure as boss had yet to see them defeated. However, their most recent match had been the hugely disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Malta in their Group 6 qualifier, and so the Hungarians’ chances of reaching the World Cup were already beginning to look slim. Their forthcoming trip to Dublin to face The Republic of Ireland would be a vital one.
Italy team news
As it did seem that Vicini had a clear idea of the majority of the players he would want in his World Cup starting line-up, the Italy boss only changed a few positions from one friendly to another. However, since their draw with the South Americans in Verona four days earlier, he had brought in no less than five replacements. Both full-backs had been ousted: captain Bergomi for Ferrara, the impressive De Agostini for the return of the young Maldini, back in the team after a two match absence. In midfield, Donadoni and De Napoli would replace Baggio and Marocchi, while Carnevale would get his full debut up front alongside Vialli, with the latter captaining his country for the first time from kick-off. Vialli had come off with what looked like a thigh injury before half time in the Uruguay game, but it had clearly not been too serious with him given a starting berth once again. Baresi, Ferri, Giannini and Vialli were now the only four players starting each and every one of Italy’s eight friendlies since the 1988 European Championships. Against Uruguay Italy had utilized a midfield diamond, and it would be interesting to see whether they would continue or not with what had hardly been a great instant success.
Hungary team news
Like their hosts, the visitors had also rung the changes from their previous outing. Five players had been removed from the side that had only drawn 1-1 with Malta: Central defender (Zoltán) Bognár had been moved forward into midfield, with Balog (from Vasas, not to confuse him with MTK’s striker with the same name, who had appeared as a left sided forward for their 2-2 draw in Malta at the end of last year) coming into central defence. Three of the four starting midfielders from the home fixture with the Maltese had been removed: (György) Bognár, (Ervin) Kovács, and Sass. Zsinka was brought in for his debut along the right hand side, with Italy based winger Vincze appearing down the left. Détári had been in an attacking midfield capacity last time around, but he would be given a much more defensive role for this match. Up front, neither Boda nor Hajszán would start, so the forward pairing would be Honvéd boys (Kálmán) Kovács and Fodor, the latter making his first start in what was only his second international. This meant Hungary were without big players such as Sallai, Nagy, Garaba, Kiprich and Róth. They would need the new players to make the step up ahead of the trip to Ireland.
No less than 26 meetings between these two had been played through the history, though it had been almost eleven years since their most recent encounter: Italy’s 3-1 win in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Naturally, neither side had any survivors left from that clash. Italy had won eleven and Hungary eight so far, with seven previous meetings having ended in draws. This was indeed their first meeting on Italian soil since 1959, so the fixture had not been a frequent occurance in later years.
37 year old Swiss referee Kurt Röthlisberger was emerging as one of UEFA’s leading men in black at the time. This was only his fourth international since his debut a year and a half earlier, but time was indeed on his side. He had overseen Hungary’s opening qualifier: the 1-0 home win against Northern Ireland. Would that be a good omen for today’s visitors?
|1 Walter Zenga||28||Internazionale|
|2 Ciro Ferrara||22||Napoli|
|3 Paolo Maldini||sub 78′||20||AC Milan|
|4 Franco Baresi||28||AC Milan|
|5 Riccardo Ferri||25||Internazionale|
|6 Nicola Berti||22||Internazionale|
|7 Roberto Donadoni||25||AC Milan|
|8 Fernando De Napoli||25||Napoli|
|9 Gianluca Vialli (c)||sub h-t||24||Sampdoria|
|10 Giuseppe Giannini||sub 73′||24||Roma|
|11 Andrea Carnevale||28||Napoli|
|12 Stefano Tacconi||31||Juventus|
|13 Giuseppe Bergomi||on 78′||25||Internazionale|
|14 Luigi De Agostini||28||Juventus|
|15 Luca Fusi||on 73′||25||Napoli|
|16 Giancarlo Marocchi||23||Juventus|
|17 Stefano Borgonovo||25||Fiorentina|
|18 Roberto Baggio||22||Fiorentina|
|19 Aldo Serena||on h-t||28||Internazionale|
|20 Roberto Mancini||24||Sampdoria|
|1 Péter Disztl||29||Honvéd|
|2 István Kozma||24||Újpest Dózsa|
|3 József Keller||23||Ferencváros|
|4 Lázsló Disztl||47′||26||Honvéd|
|5 Tibor Balog||25||Vasas|
|6 Zoltán Bognár||23||Szombathely|
|7 János Zsinka||sub 60′||23||Dunaújváros|
|8 Kálmán Kovács||23||Honvéd|
|9 Imre Fodor||sub 76′||26||Honvéd|
|10 Lajos Détári (c)||26||Olympiakos|
|11 István Vincze||sub 66′||22||Lecce|
|12 Károly Gelei||24||Váci Izzó MTE
|13 József Szalma||22||Tatabánya|
|14 Gyula Hajszán||on 66′||27||Rába ETO Győr|
|15 Gyula Zsivóczky||23||Váci Izzó MTE|
|16 József Gregor||on 60′||25||Honvéd|
|17 György Bognár||on 76′||27||Toulon|
|18 Imre Boda||27||Olympiakos Volou|
The home side arrive in a slightly wider version of Vicini’s 4-4-2 than had been seen against Uruguay four days earlier, where they had been in a tidy diamond. They were with only one wide player this time around, Donadoni, whose position of origin was along the right hand side. However, the Milan ace was no stranger to coming across to the opposite side, where Italy were without a designated wide man, as Berti had been in something akin to an inside left role. Giannini sat in the deep role once again, and De Napoli was just ahead and to the right of him. With two mobile strikers, rather than one stationary and one on the move, in Carnevale and Vialli, Italy had more to offer going forward than in their most recent friendlies. Vialli had often been seen towards the right in attack, but this time around he started seeking wide left territory, with Carnevale heading more into right-sided territory. However, later in the half they would indeed swap sides. Italy did, though, seem to benefit from both forwards moving about rather than having a forward in the Borgonovo or Serena mould. At the back, they were with Maldini back in for De Agostini to the left, and Ferrara had another opportunity as full-back for Bergomi to the right. Baresi was again the spare man, with Ferri doing the dirty work ahead of the libero.
Hungary boss Bicskei will have argued for his formation being 4-4-2 too. They were also with a libero at the back in the younger of the two Disztl brothers, whereas Balog had a more combating type of role just ahead of him, even if he did seem confused as both Italy forwards kept trekking into wide areas: Whom would he follow? He ended up doing something in between. Kozma at right-back was relatively attack-minded, and Keller, a more sophisticated kind of player, was also willing to lend a helping hand inside the opponents’ half. Their central midfield two was often ran over by the hosts, and captain Détári was seen in the deep playmaking role from kick-off. Z Bognár was a stronger player defensively, but the Hungarian tactics had left him with much ground to cover. Right-sided midfielder Zsinka kept himself to his side, whereas Vincze opposite was more mobile, also at times looking to get through the centre. Kovács was their most forward striker, with Fodor starting more or less alongside him, but he would soon drop into a slightly deeper role, in something resembling a support position.
After all substitutions had been made, this is what the two teams looked like:
The most significant deal saw Détári move further up the pitch after the introduction of ‘second playmaker’ G Bognár, to good effect, even if it was too late. Giannini had been allowed to excel from a more advanced role as well, bossing the centre of the pitch, whilst his replacement Fusi came in as defensive cover, almost seeing the home side go 4-2-2-2.
There was a great anticipation around the stadium, though the flags atop the far stand showed that the players would have to contain relatively strong winds along the pitch. The two teams came out to large rounds of applause, and the navy band lined up just behind the players would perform the respective national anthems, with the visitors hearing their’s first. When it was time for the Italian national anthem, the crowd responded with more applause, and they sang their way through. Soon Italy’s captain for the day, Vialli, would win the toss of the coin with Détári, and Vialli would opt to remain where they were, with the strong wind behind them for the opening half. With all formalities out of the way, it would be Kovács and Détári kicking the match into life.
The opening exchanges are frenetic, though unspectacular. Hungary are not trying to keep down the pace of the game early on, and they go about their business as if they wish to take the game to the hosts. However, there seems to be a lack of quality in some of their touches, and they are unable to string a lot of passes together. Just like the home side, the visitors do appear to be in 4-4-2, and it is evident from the word go that (László) Disztl will perform in a relatively deep libero role. He is the younger brother of goalkeeper Péter, and they both play for champions elect Honvéd in the Hungarian capital. Indeed, no less than four players represent Honvéd among the eleven players in the visitors’ starting line-up. Ahead of libero Disztl is Balog, who immediately leaves an untidy impression: With the two Italian strikers clearly intending to drift into wide positions, Balog seems uncertain of what to do. Should he pick one and follow wide, or should he remain in the centre in order to protect the area in front of his goal? As it is, his confusion leaves him with something in between. It could be that this bewilderment cast its spell on him, but what he does, Balog only seems to do half heartedly. This would come back to haunt him.
Italy had displayed a diamond shape to their midfield four days earlier, but from the outset it was evident that Donadoni would take up a position wide to the right, something which he was familiar with from his club side. However, there appeared to be no clear left-sided midfielder in the Italian line-up, as Berti, who had performed along the left before, had been drafted closer to a central berth in what was possibly a left inside half role. At the deep end, as against Uruguay, was the elegant Giannini, a rather powerful presence in the middle of the pitch, and a player also not shy to moving about; he was far from just being stood still in the centre circle. In De Napoli, the hosts had a central midfielder, one just to the right of Giannini, of defensive nature. He was in for Marocchi since the match against the Latin Americans, and in De Napoli you would usually get things done with simplicity, yet to good effect. He did seem to know about his own limitations, and so he would usually pass the ball on to players of greater ability. He was also good at breaking up play, and did seem a good fit inbetween Giannini and Donadoni as a balancing act. The opposition was probably of a weaker character than it had been last time around, but this midfield composition did seem an improved one from the one four days earlier. And what they were lacking in width along the left, skipper Vialli would try to make up for, deliberately running out into left sided territory from early on. With Carnevale’s tendency to drift into wide areas opposite, Italy had less predictability about them, and so Carnevale’s presence seemed to be a step up from Serena’s rather stationary approach through the middle. Italy would soon have Hungary under the cosh.
It only takes the home side seven and a half minutes to go ahead. Donadoni, who had been lively in the early exchanges, was felled rather unnecessarily by Hungary left-back Keller almost by the byline a few yards in from the corner flag, and from the resulting free-kick, Vialli could guide the ball low into the left hand corner with his head. It had been Donadoni’s in-swung kick assisting the Sampdoria forward, but the marking among the visitors was shocking. Balog had been the player nearest to Vialli, yet he had left his man completely unattended. The uneasy showing of the Hungary central defender had proved costly as early as the eighth minute. In his 37th international, this was Vialli’s eleventh strike for Gli Azzurri. The nation were relying on him to succeed. Perhaps this would spur him on to goalscoring with regular frequency for the national team?
The visitors hardly get any assistance from the strong wind blowing in their faces during the first half, and the home side’s players are acting aggressively, showing great desire to win any ball back. The tenacious Italians do not let Hungary with much room to operate in midfield, and it will just take twelve minutes for the great Détári, plying his trade with Olympiakos in the Greek league, to show his displeasure as he concedes a throw-in a few yards inside his own half, with Keller failing to read his skipper’s intention. Détári had been under strict surveillance from the home side’s midfielders, and in his deep role, he had hardly been allowed to direct passes towards Hungary’s more forward players. In fact, operating relatively withdrawn, added defensive responsibility came with the role, and it is fair to say that this side of the game was hardly Détári’s greatest asset. It would leave his central midfield partner Z Bognár with a lot of room to cover, and this would see the Italians with too much ease win the midfield ‘battle’. Still shy of a quarter of an hour, Italy should have added another goal to their early domination, with Ferrara receiving a through ball from Carnevale to round P Disztl. However, from a bit of an angle, he could only find the upright as he looked to apply the finishing touch with the goal gaping to his left.
Small forward players
Hungary’s forwards are relatively small in physique, but they have movability about them, and that goes for left-sided midfielder Vincze too. Based with Lecce in Italy, indeed not far away from Taranto, Vincze is something of a starlet in Hungarian football. They were in big need of players stepping up to the demand of international level, and Vincze was an exciting prospect. Equipped with a low centre of gravity, he would at times come inside from his wide position and prove an outlet for Détári to look for through the centre. Fodor, making only his second international appearance, was of a similar build, but was less effective when in possession of the ball. Yet, running with the ball at his feet was something for which Fodor did seem to have an appetite. Kovács was the more direct of the three, trying to look for space behind the home side’s defence. There would not be a lot for him to find. To the right, debutant Zsinka was having a difficult time, and he would make very little impact on the enthusiastic Maldini. With 15 minutes just passed, it was the hosts who arrived at another scoring opportunity, as Carnevale headed down for Giannini to run onto inside the area, P Disztl coming out of his goal to save the Roma man’s effort with his legs.
The ease with which Italy were carving Hungary open was astonishing. Before 20 minutes had been played, both Berti and Vialli would have efforts from just outside the box that P Disztl would have to parry away with low saves. Italy, fuelled by their early lead, were very confident and slick in their passing, whilst the opposite seemed to be the case among their visitors. Indeed, if Hungary could concede a lot of opportunities to lowly Malta in a qualifier at home, it was no great surprise that they would do the same away to much more advanced opposition. Bicskei’s tactics seemed discussable at best; inept at worst. And so far the reliable and bearded figure of P Disztl was saving them from being behind by a much greater margin. Carnevale was revelling in his roving forward role, and Donadoni was often getting the better of Keller along the Italian right hand side. Then there was Vialli causing havoc inside Kozma in the Hungarian right-back position, as well as Giannini and Berti steamrollering their way through the centre. Bicskei would need to sort his lines out soon or run the risk of taking a proper hiding.
Baresi joins in on the fun for the first time
The pressure on the visitors’ defence was constant. If Carnevale was upsetting the nervous Balog with his runs out into wide positions, then the Napoli striker was also a menace whenever the ball came through the air. He was of good height, and so was well capable of winning headers. Italy did not make much use of high balls into the area, but on a couple of occasions Donadoni would lift the ball into the centre from a retreated position along the right. This had been how Giannini’s opportunity earlier on had come about. The home side’s full-backs were also joining in on the fun inside the Hungarians’ half, and the only respite so far for the visitors was the fact that Baresi had decided to remain inside his own half. That would change on 29 minutes, as the blue shirts strung together their most impressive attack of the game. The home libero, winning his 33rd cap, had won the ball on the halfway line, and having carried it a few yards into Hungarian territory, he played it low to his right for Carnevale, who played it instantly one touch on to Berti. The latter’s flicked pass for Baresi saw the libero lay it off for the advancing Giannini, who returned the pass for Baresi to have an effort on goal from 25 yards out. His half volley took a great dip, but came down just to the right of the post, with P Disztl rooted to his spot. It had been a wonderful move, reducing the Hungarians to mere extras. Both Berti and Vialli, full from adrenaline after the remarkable sequence of passing leading up to Baresi’s shot, were displaying their disgust at the ball drifting just wide.
The visitors arrive at their first opportunity
Hungary were probably better when Détári could play in a more advanced position; not just defensively, but also in going forward. Here, he had to carry out even the duties of picking up the ball from his defenders and look for options further afield. This made sure Détári was a long way away from the Italian goal, and these duties had previously been carried out by György Bognár in something of a ‘second playmaker’ role in the Hungarian midfield. This time around, G Bognár was on the substitutes’ bench, and so it was Z Bognár appearing alongside Détári. Zoltán Bognár did not possess the ability to carry the ball out from defence and look for a pass, so this task fell to the captain. Détári had been involved at the start of Hungary’s most promising move in the match so far on the half hour mark, but it had been Fodor making a run along the left and Kovács’ lay-off that had set Vincze up with a shooting chance from the edge of the area. The Lecce man hit it low with his left foot, trying to find the gap to the right of Zenga. However, the ‘keeper got down quickly to make a fine save, and followed up to catch his own rebound before Zsinka could get to the ball. Had Zenga not been alert, the game could have been tied despite the bonanza of opportunities down the other end.
Hungary close again
The fact that they had been able to test Zenga would give the visiting players a lift. They had seen Giannini scuff a shot high following a combination of passes with Berti inside their area, and then Carnevale had failed to control a ball from De Napoli reaching him on the far post when all he had seemed to do was head it at goal. This brought about an opportunity for a counter-attack, and though the original effort fizzed out as Baresi easily stopped Fodor in his track, the home libero got sloppy and took his eyes off the ball. This lapse in concentration lead to Kovács seizing the loose ball, feeding Vincze in the centre, and with the goal gaping, the winger contrived to put the ball just wide, under heavy pressure from Berti. The game was becoming an end to end affair, but the feeling was that the Italians had brought this upon themselves by letting their concentration slip due to the easy nature of proceedings so far.
Vicini not completely abandoning his diamond shape
It had briefly been mentioned earlier that Donadoni was not just seen along the right hand side. It must be said that he was more efficient when taking on Keller along the right, but Vicini must have had a plan to see how Donadoni would work in a role just behind the two strikers, something akin to what Baggio had held in the match against Uruguay. Donadoni was without Baggio’s silky skills, but he had a lot of energy, and he did indeed possess the ability to run with the ball past a man. If he could make use of this from a central position, it could add another dimension to the Italian attacks. This would see the other three midfielders operate behind him, with De Napoli being the natural choice as the more defensive player. Giannini and Berti would continue to dominate the centre, as Hungary would not enjoy much success in central areas throughout the half. Their defence would also rush out to try and place the Italian forwards offside, and though they succeeded on all four such occasions during the opening 45 minutes, they did thread a thin line. As if they could afford to concede even more opportunities than they had already done. It was as if half time could not arrive quickly enough for the visitors.
It is not like Italy are trying to sit back and preserve their 1-0 lead through to half time. They do continue to be in the ascendancy, but they struggle during the remaining minutes of the first half to create openings similar to the seven or eight earlier opportunities that they had arrived at already. Donadoni appears to come back into his wide right role, and he continues to give Keller, the Hungarian left-back, a tough time. That be said, it wasn’t that Keller was poor; he just did not receive any help whatsoever from Vince ahead of him or any of the midfielders. He was typically left to his own devices. Exposed. And Keller did have the attributes to contribute going forward; he was decent on the ball, and he could deliever a fine cross. However, Hungary were rarely making inroads into Italian territory, and so these qualities were rarely in demand during the opening period. Kozma, the right full-back, was also capable of trotting forward, but he had an inadequate player ahead of him in Zsinka, and so had to make his own path going forward as well as in his defensive duties. However, even if Maldini, the Italian full-back on Kozma’s side, did get forward a couple of times, the young Milan player was not bombing down that side as a constant worry for Kozma. There was more a collective kind of threat for Kozma to deal with. A minute before the break, Berti has the ball in the net, but more through a hint of luck for the visitors had the linesman on the far side flagged the Internazionale man offside from Donadoni’s equisite pass through. It had seemed that Z Bognár had delayed his step out just too long and played the goal keen midfielder onside. Berti would have to wait still for his fourth goal in the Italy jersey in what was his ninth international.
After a first half display of such shaky nature, it would be a surprise if Hungary boss Bicskei did not contemplate making any changes during the half-time break, either in personnel or tactics, or perhaps even in both. Hungary reappeared unchanged, though. Maybe the biggest surprise was Zsinka remaining on the pitch, as he had offered next to nothing during the opening period. It had been the hosts making a substitution, with Vialli coming off during the interval in order to be replaced by that man Serena, leaving Baresi with the captaincy for the second half. Having created countless opportunities during the first 45, what would Italy muster with the more stationary Serena during the second half? Italy’s forward duo of Serena and Carnevale would commence the final 45.
Détári had been sitting very deep before the break, and would Bicskei encourage his grand playmaker to be of more forward nature in the second half? If so, the manager would need to add more bite alongside Z Bognár in the centre of the pitch, where the Hungarians had been repeatedly rolled over thus far. Perhaps were his options limited, and maybe did the manager not see György Bognár as an ideal player to throw into the mix at this stage. This left Détári just as deep for the start of the second half as the Olympiakos ace had been up to then. He would embark on an interesting initiative with the second half just a minute old, but he would be stopped in his tracks halfway inside Italian territory, giving the home side the chance to break forward quickly and expose the imbalance that Détári’s forward burst had caused. It was Carnevale and Giannini who had orchestrated the break, which came to a halt when L Disztl stooped to head the ball away, realizing that he would not get there, and rather than wanting to see the ball run through to Baresi, who had made huge forward strides just outside László Disztl, the Hungarian libero denied his libero counterpart by reaching out his hand to stop the flight of the ball. Röthlisberger produced the yellow card for this act of sabotage.
Hungary continued with their fragile offside tactics after the break, and Serena would be whistled off having received a short ball from Berti just to the right of centre outside the area. Could these tactics remain unpunished throughout? Ferri, who did like to have a pop from distance, had had his effort after the free-kick given to the hosts following L Disztl’s handball offence blocked by the wall, but Italy were certainly not sitting back defending their lead. They may have been slightly less enterprising in the opening sequences of the second period than they had been for the majority of the first half, but they would soon add to their tally. Ferri, who had last scored with a fine strike from outside the area during the 2-1 win against Norway last autumn, would this time launch a missile from a full 30 yards after Giannini had seen his effort from just outside the area following a left wing corner blocked. The Internazionale defender struck it sweetly, and the ball nestled into the top right corner of the goal with P Disztl unable to get anywhere near. It was a wonder strike which probably justified Ferri’s constant desire to shoot from distance once within sight. His efforts against Uruguay in the previous friendly had been woeful.
What the home side got through Carnevale was a player carrying the ball at pace from his own half and into the opposition’s territory. And around him his team mates sought to provide him with passing outlets. Giannini seemed to have been pushed higher in the pitch, and Donadoni would continue to be a menace both from his right-sided position and even through the centre. Not only did Italy expose their visitors with pace, something which had been rare in their most recent friendlies, but also with a lot of power. Once they got into full flow, they acted like a steam roller, simply overpowering the opponents through their bursts. Hungary would retort to fouling, as this seemed to be the only way to stop these waves. Carnevale was particularly impressive, whereas his second half forward partner Serena had yet to make much of himself, living a more anonymous life slightly to the right in the home side’s attack. The Hungarians were still looking for Détári to send either of their two strikers or their wide players away through long, raking forward passes, but they were unable to build any momentum despite now operating with the strong wind behind them. Zsinka continued to be of little use along the right hand side, and he would be the first visitor to give way when he was replaced by Gregor on the hour mark. By then Serena had come to his first opportunity as he had headed Donadoni’s fine cross from the right just wide. Much better from the big striker as he had orientated himself towards the far post, thus escaping the attention of Balog. Not that the Hungary #5 was too much for him in the air, but Zsinka or Kozma were still easier victims.
P Disztl saves to set up chance for visitors
Carnevale continues to be a menace, and his energetic runs from the deep with the ball at his feet are becoming a big Italian feature since the break. His next attempt will see him drive into the Hungarian penalty area, and P Disztl has to come off his line and thwart the Napoli striker low down, something which will see the visitors head for a counter-attack in order for Bognár to tee up Kovács for a left foot shot from inside the area which Zenga gets a hand to to tip over for a corner. It was Hungary’s best effort on goal yet.
Another chance for the Hungarians
In the home side’s midfield, Berti and De Napoli had switched sides after the break, with the latter adding more defensive bite to their central left. However, Berti had so far been a rather peripheral figure in the Italian waves of attack, despite his nature of wanting to contribute in an attacking sense. It was still Carnevale, Giannini and Donadoni running the show for the hosts, and in fact Berti’s second half role appeared to be slightly more restricted than we had seen from him in the past. Despite De Napoli’s presence as something akin to a defensive central left midfielder, Hungary substitute Gregor will be allowed to make a diagonal run through the centre and have a strike with his left foot from inside the penalty area. Had he managed to connect cleanly, it would have been a decent opportunity. As it were, Zenga could gather without much effort. Were Italy a bit more slack at the back, though? Hungary had arrived at two shooting opportunities from inside the Italian penalty area in the space of two minutes.
The third Italian goal will arrive shortly before the halfway point of the second half and end whatever meagre speculations may have been mounted about a Hungarian comeback. Not that it had ever looked likely, and Berti’s goal would effectively seal the win for the home side. With Serena and Carnevale for the last few minutes having switched sides in attack, the latter had been the instigator while momentarily back along the left. His pass across to Donadoni had seen the wide man get past Hajszán , who had only just been brought on for the increasingly ineffective Vincze, and Donadoni played in Giannini inside the area, who in turn proceeded to back heel the ball into the path of Berti. Berti had scuffed his initial right footed attempt, but he could gratefully pick up Balog’s disastrous attempt of a clearance, and this time take a touch to steady himself and deliever a powerful and precise left-footed finish to the left of P Disztl and just inside the post. It was an elegant effort, and the shot left the ‘keeper with little chance of saving. With more efficiency so far in the second half, Italy suddenly found themselves three goals to the good. It had been a poor way for Hajszán to introduce himself by letting Donadoni skip past him so easily, but the latest substitute’s forte was primarily in attack. With Donadoni so finely tuned by this point, even Keller would have found it difficult to stop the Milanese from advancing to the byline and set up Giannini.
Visitors with another effort
Hungary, despite having the still strong wind behind them for the second half, were unable to take advantage, and had so far very much been in the passenger seat. They had by now substituted both their starting wide men, and despite Hajszán’s inability to stop Donadoni from making it to the byline in the move that lead to 3-0, he would play a role in the visitors’ next strike on target. Détári, as was the Hungarian recipe, again brought the ball into the hosts’ half, this time towards the left of centre. He’d received a cheeky back heel from the latest addition to the team, and the skipper would then send left-back Keller away down the left. Rather than try to take on Baresi, who was in a right-back position for the occasion, Keller hit a ball more in hope than purposefully into the middle, though as Italy struggled to get the ball away properly, it would run out to Z Bognár some 30 yards from goal. The midfielder had been part of a duo that had struggled to contain the home side, but far from dejected he took a couple of touches as he brought the ball a few yards ahead before shooting. A clean strike from 25 yards could have caused Zenga trouble had it contained belief, but there was little of that in the defensive midfielder’s effort. The ball bounced just in front of the ‘keeper, who nevertheless had no problems collecting it safely in his grasp.
Carnevale caps performance with goal
With some 17 minutes remaining, Vicini decided to let the impressive Giannini take a seat as Sampdoria’s Fusi came on. The Roma man had been a very integral part in the excessive dominance in midfield that the home side had conjured up, and so the visitors would’ve been relieved to see the back of him. With no Giannini in the side, more attacking responsibility would again be handed to Berti, whereas Fusi would come into De Napoli’s central left midfield role, in a somewhat deep-lying capacity. He was a relatively modest player in terms of physical build, Fusi, but clearly equipped with a fine footballing brain. He was winning his third cap exactly a year since his previous contribution for the Italian tricolor: a 3-0 friendly win in Luxembourg. After this switch, it did look like the Italian midfield consisted of two players with more defensive focus, De Napoli and Fusi, as well as two men in advanced roles in Berti and Donadoni. These two latter would both try to send Carnevale in on goal, though whereas the agile forward slipped as he tried to take on Berti’s pass, he had run himself cleverly free from Balog when Donadoni’s finely tuned pass came in his direction. The crowd had sounded their appreciation for Carnevale’s performance until then, and they will have been delighted to see the striker find the net with a rasping shot from 20 yards out . His shot went in off the bar with P Disztl unable to reach it due to the venom with which the ball was struck. The Napoli forward was off the mark for his country. Less than a minute earlier the visitors had made their third substitution with G Bognár replacing the unsuccessful Fodor.
Before the restart after Italy’s fourth goal, Vicini decided to take off Maldini and replace him with Bergomi. The latter was the natural right-back choice with Gli Azzurri, though Ferrara would keep this position even with Bergomi on, as the Internazionale man was a straight swap for his Milan counterpart. For the visitors, the introduction of G Bognár would see Détári move into a more advanced position, the position previously occupied by Fodor. The Hungarian formation by now did carry hallmarks of 4-3-3, with Kovács operating as the main striker with Hajszán and Gregor along the flanks. Détári would be in the support role with the Bognárs behind him in midfield. On 79 minutes, with G Bognár having been on the pitch for three minutes, he proceeds to ram Zenga’s crossbar with a wonderful right-footed effort from all of 30 yards. The shot had probably benefitted from the wind, but Zenga managed to get a paw to it and divert its path onto the crossbar. It was, in fact, a quite terrific save by the eccentric goalie. G Bognár’s opportunism also deserved praise. Less than a minute later, there’s an opportunity for a fifth home goal, as Fusi found Donadoni with a good pass into the area. The midfield dynamo had escaped the attention from every Hungarian, but from an angle to the right of P Disztl, he could only fire his effort into the side wall. What an open affair we were having by now. It was like the players had chucked the tactics boards out of the window and were directing their own fun. In terms of amusement, Donadoni had been one of the main characters all afternoon.
Second Hungarian crossbar hit
It was not very Italy-like to concede a lot of opportunities against during any given match, but as the second half wore on and both teams had become more loose in their tactical set-ups, Hungary would again come close from distance. Only a few minutes after G Bognár’s crossbar hit, Détári would see his effort from almost an identical spot, this time through a free-kick , around 30 yards out from Zenga’s goal, crash off the bar and bounce behind. Détári, much in the thick of the visitors’ action, had earlier seen a ball in the back of the net disallowed for offside, and he had also come close when Baresi had blocked his shot from inside the area. The Hungary ace was revelling in his more advanced role, and the away team could by now claim that they had deserved a goal. Not that it was to be. The remaining minutes are rather uneventful, and Italy could claim a big win and a fine boost to their confidence to last them through the summer. They would now face an almost five month long break from international football. Hungary would need an improved showing to get something from their forthcoming trip to Dublin.
Italy’s early goal set the tone for the first half, where the hosts lined up seven or eight opportunities to score. Only Vialli’s header would find its way into the back of the net. Italy’s midfield completely dominated the Hungarian one, where the usually attacking-minded Détári was kept quiet in a more deep-lying role. Some of Hungary’s performers were not up to the task, and Bicskei could and possibly should have made changes at half-time. Having been up against the wind before the break, it was now the visitors having the benefit of the strong gusts. By the halfway point in the second half they’d be three goals down, though, and only after Carnevale’s maiden strike in the Italy jersey for 4-0 would substitute G Bognár and Détári both strike Zenga’s crossbar from 30 yards. It was a well deserved home win, though the visitors could perhaps count themselves unlucky not to have got on the scoresheet as they did seem rather inventive when coming forward. Giannini, Donadoni and Carnevale the stand-out performers in an entertaining selection .
1 Zenga 6.9
did well to get fingers to G Bognár’s effort from 30 yards and tip it onto the crossbar, and also fisted over Kovács’ effort. Other than that relatively untroubled
2 Ferrara 7.1
should have scored when he rounded P Disztl early on. Hardly challenged defensively. Home tactics hardly allowed for full-backs to be too attacking
3 Maldini 7.0
unspectacular, no fuss, not troubled. Twice checked and crossed with his weaker right foot when he could have challenged and whipped a left foot cross in
(13 Bergomi –
came on and stayed back. Gave away a needless free-kick which saw Détári ram the bar)
4 Baresi 7.3
instigated and rounded off the move of the game: shot which just went wide after half an hour. Kept the backline together, but his arrogance might have got the better of him on a couple of occasions. Yet a good game, especially in coming forward
5 Ferri 7.2
efficient at the back, and this time succeeded with an effort from distance: He could not have hit the ball more sweetly than he did for 2-0
6 Berti 7.4
fine game too, and took his goal well, as well as seeing another called off for a marginal offside. Part of a completely dominant midfield, but not as visible as some of the others
7 Donadoni 8.3
succeeded with most of what he attempted. Two assists and played a major role in another. Great understanding with Carnevale. Did well even when brought into the centre, but at his most efficient when out wide. Terrific game
8 De Napoli 7.5
effective as the more defensive midfielder, well aware of his limitations, so kept things simple; let the others do the fancy work. Tremendous work rate
9 Vialli 6.7
He did score the only goal of the first half from a fine header, but other than that he was rarely involved despite the host of chances created by the Italians. The exception was a low shot from distance which P Disztl parried. Probably still felt his sore thigh from four days earlier as his movability was poor. Replaced at half-time
(19 Serena 6.6
so stationary. Touch let him down on a couple of occasions, but used his body strength to hold the ball up well. Apart from one header just wide, he was of little goal threat)
10 Giannini 7.9
dominant midfield display in a performance of power, precision, movement and unpredictability. Penultimate Italian to touch the ball ahead of second and third goal. Completely steam rollered the Hungarian midfield, and probably should have scored during the first half. Rested for the final quarter of an hour
(15 Fusi –
quiet and efficient, one clever diagonal pass for Donadoni to shoot into the side wall)
11 Carnevale 8.4
seemed like he’d been part of the team for years. Constant threat through sheer physique, great drive and his unorthodox forward play. Linked up well with Donadoni, Berti and Giannini, and created the opportunity which Ferrara saw rebound off the post. Eventually got the goal which his display hugely meritted
1 P Disztl 6.8
did what he could to stop the rampant home side from adding to their tally, but ultimately left withouth a lot of help from his defence. A couple of fine stops
2 Kozma 6.5
not distiguished in either direction, but suffered from little assistance
3 Keller 6.4
cute touches, but struggled with Donadoni, also through a complete lack of support. Willing going forward, but hardly successful
4 L Disztl 6.6
the libero was the better defender, but lived a charmed life in the marginal Hungarian offside tactics. Part of a messy defence nevertheless and at times took out quite a lot of depth. Booked for deliberate handball
5 Balog 5.6
a very troubled afternoon, and involved somehow in three of four goals against. Seemed bewildered whether to man or zonal mark, and something in between was a terrible interpretation. Poor touch, often outmuscled
6 Z Bognár 6.2
a couple of poor fouls, should’ve been booked for sabotage when stopping the ball with his hands, and was nutmegged twice. Not enough discipline in that central midfield duo with Détári, but also suffered from lack of support
7 Zsinka 5.4
simply not good enough. No threat in a forward sense, and did not lend Kozma much support defensively. Does not engage. Should have been put out of his misery sooner
(16 Gregor 6.0
better and of more initiative than the man whom he replaced, and came to a shooting opportunity through a diagonal run, yet too simple technically to pose a threat to his full-back, and could have lent more defensive support)
8 K Kovács 6.6
saw a decent effort tipped over in the second half. At times isolated up front, and so sought to come deep, which again saw the visitors lacking an outlet up front. Linked well with Détári after the captain had been moved forward
9 Fodor 6.3
at times busy and wanted to come deep to participate in build-ups, though lacking in passing quality. Too similar in physique with most of the Hungarian forwards, and eventually easy to read
(17 G Bognár –
made a difference with some positive touches and not least an opportunistic strike from 30 yards which hit the bar, but by then the Italian defensive was less strict. His entrance allowed for Détári to come higher in the pitch)
10 Détári 7.0
easily the better visitor, some silky touches and some fine passes, but also lost in possession on occasions due to his willingness to play with a greater risk, and was not always best pleased in a withdrawn role. Fantastic strike from late free-kick which came off the bar, and had the ball in the net, though disallowed for offside. Had been moved into an advanced position by then, and revelled in the more laxed surroundings. Too good for some of his team mates
11 Vincze 6.4
showed in glimpses his ability, but was predominantly kept in check. Struggled to make an impact along the left hand side, and for the latter part of the first half he came into the centre to try and hold the ball up and play his team mates in. Taken off for a similar type of player
(14 Hajszán –
like his predecessor, he would more often than not look to contribute through the centre, something which saw the Hungarian width suffer. Some nice touches, but inefficient, and almost disgracefully easily overrun by Donadoni before 3-0)