Dour draw in Budapest

1990 World Cup Qualification
UEFA – Group 6
Video: Highlights
Wed. 8 March 1989
Kick-off: 6.00pm
Népstadion, Budapest
Att.: 33,966
Ref.: Zoran Petrović (YUG)
L 1: Branko Jović (YUG)
L 2: Mateo Beusan (YUG)


3Northern Ireland5113373
4Rep of Ireland2011021

As Spain now looked as good as qualified for Italia’90, the meeting in Budapest would be between the two teams that most people held to be the contenders for the second qualifying berth. The match between Hungary and the Republic of Ireland did however not find any of them in particular good shape: Hungary were still trying to restructure under new manager Bicskei after the domestic bribery scandal and the draw in Malta, while the Irish had yet to score in the qualifers so far (and in fact, they hadn’t scored in a WC away qualifier since 1981).

Hungary team news
After the disastrous events that took place late 1988, Mezey resigned from his position, as he felt that the preconditions for the job had been significantly altered. The Hungarian federation had quickly appointed Bertalan Bicskei, the successful Honvéd manager, as his replacement. Several playeres were still unavailable to Bicskei due to the ongoing investigation of the match-fixing scandal, all of which had been Honvéd players from the season 86-87. Bicksei was given no international friendly before this match, but brought his domestic based players to a training camp in Yugoslavia in January and February, where he was said to place “emphasis on accurate passing, intelligent running and slick use of the offside trap.” (World Soccer March 1989)

As Mezey, Bicskei would have to rely on the immense creative abilities of Lajos Détári, and picked a somewhat different looking team around the Olympiakos playmaker. He continued with László Disztl in central defence, but paired him with Zoltan Bognár, who had no caps to his name. Curiously György Bognár (not related to Zoltan B.) was on the bench, Bicskei instead preferring József Gregor from his previous club Honvéd. And once again there was a new partner for Kiprich upfront, this time quick forward Ferenc Mészáros, with Hajszán dropping down to a more unfamiliar role.

Rep. of Ireland team news
The Republic of Ireland played their third straight away game in the qualification. The Irish squad notably included Liam Brady: he was fit to play, but had to be content with a place on the bench. There were certainly voices in the Irish public who couldn’t understand Charlton’s choice to not field Brady from start, but Charlton persisted with his usual team selection.

Hungary (4-1-3-2)

1 Péter Disztl28Honvéd
2 István Kozma24Újpest Dózsa
3 János Sass22Honvéd
4 László Disztl26Honvéd
5 Ervin Kovács22Újpest Dózsa
6 Zoltán Bognár22Szombathely
7 József Kiprich (c)25Tatabánya
8 József Gregorsub 78′25Honvéd
9 Ferenc Mészárossub h-t25Lokeren
10 Lajos Détári25Olympiakos
11 Gyula Hajszán27Győri ETO

12 József Kardos29Apollon Kalamarias
13 József Keller23Ferencváros
14 György Bognáron h-t27Toulon
15 Imre Bodaon 78′27Olympiakos Volos
16 Károly Gelei24Vác
Manager: Bertalan Bicskei

Rep of Ireland (4-4-2)

1 Packie Bonner28Celtic
2 Chris Morris25Celtic
3 Chris Hughton30Tottenham
4 Mick McCarthy30Celtic
5 Kevin Moran (c)32Sporting Gijón
6 Paul McGrath29Manchester United
7 Ronnie Whelan27Liverpool
8 Ray Houghton27Liverpool
9 John Aldridgesub 80′30Liverpool
10 Tony Cascarinosub 80′26Millwall
11 Kevin Sheedy29Everton

12 Liam Bradyon 80′33West Ham
13 Gerry Peyton32Bournemouth
14 Andy Townsend25Norwich
15 David Kelly23West Ham
17 Niall Quinn ¹on 80′22Arsenal
Manager: Jackie Charlton

¹ N Quinn did for some reason wear #17, and not #16.

Tactical line-ups

Match Report

First half:
At some point in Jackie Charlton’s tactics meeting before kick-off, how to stop Lajos Détári must have been a topic. It did however not look that way, as Ireland just couldn’t pick up Détári in the opening minutes of the game. Détári immediately discovered that there were acres of space in midfield and freely distributed the ball, masterminding some promising initial attacks for the Hungarians. In one attack, he released first Kozma and then Sass down the flank to provide crosses. The Irish took some time to settle, but escaped the early confusion around how to handle Détári.

As soon as Ireland found their structure, one could see a somewhat more attacking philosophy to the team than one had expected. They would sometimes press high up the field with the team, probably as a counter measure to the deep lying Détári (dropping far more deep than in his previous match). The Irish were also willing to send men forward in attack: players like McGrath and Morris had support duties. Was Charlton alarmed about the meager results so far in the qualification?

While there weren’t a lot of chances to talk about, it was clear to see that the Irish team seemed the more cohesive of the two. The Irish right side with Houghton and Morris was combining well. Since Hájszan so often gravitated toward the centre of the pitch, Morris seemed to have no worries to join Houghton in attack, and several times made overlap runs. Comparatively, the left side was left almost unusued, with Sheedy looking very tame and Hughton offering nothing forward. Having said that, Houghton did not restrict himself to the right side of the pitch, but frequently visited the central parts of midfield. Expertly switching between centre and width, this meant that Houghton saw a lot of the ball and Ireland had two creative players in the middle of the park. And as Kovács at times operated very deep, almost on par with the central defenders, there were spaces there to be used for Ireland.

Cascarino probably hadn’t maintained the same form for Millwall that he had during autumn 1988, but produced a good showing in this match. As had become regular, he would play a support role as target man, with Aldridge lurking on top. Cascarino did well to go both left and right, stretching the Hungarian defence. This worked very well with Houghton, who for example would cut inside when Cascarino went wide. There was a good understanding in the Irish attack. Sheedy and Aldridge didn’t get much involved, but overall there were positive tendencies to be spotted. On the half hour, Ireland created the first goal scoring opportunity of the game: it came from a free kick, as Cascarino headed the ball back in front of goal and Paul McGrath managed to finish with an acrobatic bicycle kick that P. Disztl had to make a reaction save to.

In comparison, Hungary looked less assured about themselves. Their passing was generally abysmal. Sometimes because of too ambitious play, but very often because of easy individual mistakes. Adding to this, they lost nearly every battle for the ball with the Irish players. This would make it difficult to win any football match normally … Détári still seemed the one player able to create something, but he was increasingly dropping very deep in midfield, where he didn’t poise the same danger to the opposition. Star striker (and captain for the evening) Kiprich saw little of the ball: the Hungarians had forgotten how effective he was at times against Northern Ireland for breaking down a defence. Hungary’s one big chance in the 1st half came shortly after McGrath’s bicicletta: they are normally a decent counter-attacking side, and they showed this as Sass reclaimed the ball for Hungary and swiftly set up Hajszán to drive forward. Sass eventually also finished the attack on a rebound, but the shot was not to well placed and Bonner parried. Speaking of Sass, one would have expected him and Kozma to offer something forward, but they hardly came into play and in general Hungary once again lacked width.

At the half-time whistle, neither team had managed to score. 0-0. Both teams had produced one good goal scoring opportunity, but Ireland generally looked more composed.

Second half
Hungary had looked lackluster in the 1st half, and Bicskei made a change at halftime. Out went striker Mészaros, who had been very little involved. In came midfielder György Bognár, making his first appearance since his dominant display against Northern Ireland. Hungary changed formation to a 4-1-4-1, with Kiprich as the sole striker. Kovács still sat right in front of the defence, Détári kept his deep position, and Gregor, Hajszán and G. Bognár now played from left to right in midfield (Gregor and G. Bognár playing centrally, not really as wide midfielders).

The two faces of Détári were shown from the start of the half. He now looked to drop even deeper, and as his passes too often were sloppy, the Irish could win the ball high up the field when they exerted high pressure. However, as the Irish collective tried to close him down in his deep role, Détári could also exploit the large spaces in front of him, as when he made a beautifully weighted pass from his own half to send Kiprich almost through on goal. Kiprich (who showed McCarthy a clean pair of heels to collect the ball) could however not find his balance and the shot went wide off the goal. There was therefore a risk for Ireland here, making it difficult to say when they should press high or fall back, which would allow Détári to go further upfield. In a third situation involving Détári in the opening minutes of the 2nd half, the Irish failed to pick him up on a counter-attack following a corner – this had happened also in the first half, and once again they weren’t alert. Détári showed his skills on the ball to swiftly advance towards the Irish goal, but for some reason he chose to shoot (a tame shot) instead of releasing the ball to G. Bognár, who would have been clear on goal. Détári was, once again, all over the park.

As the presence of Détári again faded somewhat after the opening minutes (just as in the 1st half), the game went into a long scrappy phase. Neither team seemed able to string their attacking efforts together. For Hungary, the passing accuracy really let them down, like it had done in the 1st half. They were mainly trying to make combinations through their midfield, but again passing quality was quite horrible. Considering that Hungary were the home team, one sensed a bit of frustration creeping in as the half went on without too much happening around Packie Bonner’s goalmouth. It is true that with an extra man in midfield, Hungary had more presence in that department after the break. And the introduction of Bognár did help somewhat to at least keep hold of the ball. But again they were playing too narrow, playing with a lot of predictibility against a very well organized team and seemed to have lost concentration in their passing.

In a rare good attack, Hungary created the only chance of the 2nd half. Kovács, who had been shielding and covering the defence all match, saw the possibility to go forward. His pass out right found Kiprich, who had drifted wide and escaped his markers – this is of course one of the prefered moves of the Tatabánya star. Kiprich crossed the ball in to find E. Kovács, and crowded by Irish defenders the leaping Kovács managed to get his head on the ball, but the cross was too high, and the header inevitably went over Bonner’s bar. It was a good move, and unexpected from everything else Hungary seemed to do this 2nd half.

The Hungarian tactics was obviously to build up play from behind with the very deep Détári, and possibly force the Irish to close down high up field, so as to open up spaces. When this didn’t work, as Détári really didn’t create much from that position and as Hungary found it hard to penetrate, one wonders why Bicskei didn’t try to move Détári into a more attacking position. But Bicskei stuck to his game plan, and as the 2nd half progressed one saw also G. Bognár more and more dropping deep. The problem remained that Hungary simply weren’t able to bring the ball much beyond the midwayline, and so all their effort on their own half was wasted.

Ireland were largely happy to contain Hungary in the second half, which they did without too much trouble, as their opposition rarely even entered the final third of the pitch. Ireland were, as always, well organized and were very strong in the duels. But neither they could find a goal in this match. While Hungary created perhaps one and a half chance in the second half, Ireland created absolutely none. Having said that, the Irish did make some attractive moves down their right flank (just as in the 1st half) involving Houghton and Morris, and usually the target services of Cascarino. In that way there was a method to Ireland’s play. Unfortunately, though, it never resulted in any chance created. Towards the end, Jackie Charlton (without his sixpence) sent on Niall Quinn and finally Liam Brady, changing the formation to 4-5-1. The tactical change didn’t bring about any real consequences for the game, which inevitably ended 0-0.

Bicskei had experimented with a very deep Détári in his first match as a national team manager, and it didn’t really work all that well. True, Hungary created the more chances in this game, but there seemed to be a lack of shape, team cohesion and passion. Ireland once again failed to find a goal, but they were as always tidy, and got the point they deserved.


1 P Disztl 6.8
2 Kozma 6.6
3 Sass 6.9
4 L Disztl 6.8
5 E Kovács 7.0
6 Z Bognár 6.6
7 Kiprich 6.7
8 Gregor 6.3
9 Mészaros 6.0
(14 G Bognár 6.7)
10 Détári 6.8
11 Hajszán 6.7

1 Bonner 6.7
2 Morris 7.2
3 Hughton 6.7
4 McCarthy 6.8
5 Moran 6.7
6 McGrath 6.8
7 Whelan 7.0
8 Houghton 7.2
9 Aldridge 6.3
10 Cascarino 6.9
11 Sheedy 6.4

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