Unlikely Pintér brace somehow secures a draw

1-2 (39) Attila Pintér
2-2 (82) Attila Pintér


0-1 (31) Julio Salinas
0-2 (36) Míchel

1990 World Cup Qualification
UEFA Group 6
Video: Full game (four parts)
Wed. 11 October 1989
Kick-off: 6.00pm
Népstadion, Budapest
Att.: 30,000
Ref.: Mr George Courtney (ENG)
L 1: Raymond Lewis (ENG)
L 2: Peter Newton (ENG)


After Hungary’s important, but unimpressive, win in Belfast, they were again in the race for a qualifying berth for the 1990 World Cup. They would, however, need to beat Spain twice, in which case Hungary and Rep. of Ireland (who had all but qualified earlier that day with a win again N. Ireland) would go through to the finals. Perhaps not likely, but a win for Hungary this evening would of course ensure lata drama in this group. A draw would be sufficient for Spain to qualify.

2Rep. of Ireland74218210
4N. Ireland82156125

Hungary team news

Bicskei lined up his team in his standard 4-4-2 formation. On the team sheet, this looked like a quite attacking line-up, thanks to the inclusion of István Vincze instead of János Sass on the left side of the midfield. Could it potentially ruin the balance of the team? The team included a main surprise: Antal Róth, who finally looked to have overcome his injuries. Surprisingly, he did not take place in the central defence, but as a defensive midfielder, with the task to balance the Hungarian midfield. An unusual role for Róth. Another player who one initially had expected to take a much bigger part in the qualifiers than what had been the case, Attila Pinter, took the libero position. Kiprich (now Feyenoord) replaced Fischer, who had been very static against N. Ireland. All in all, these seemed to be promising changes.

Spain team news

Luis Suárez for once did not opt for 5-3-2 away from home (which anyway did not work too well in Dublin), but a 4-4-2 formation. He had utilized a small pool of players in the qualifiers, but this time he introduced a new player in Villaroya, who took the left midfield spot, where one otherwise would have expected to see Begiristain given the choice of formation. This was also the first match in the qualifiers without Butragueño (injured), who was replaced by the more physical Julio Salinas, taking place next to Manolo. In-form striker Pardeza of Zaragoza had been very close to get the nod by Luis Suárez, who in the end decided to stick with Manolo.

In the build-up to the match, Luis Suárez declared that he did not feel any particular pressure before the match. He would simply recognize that if Spain failed to take 1 point from the double encounter against Hungary, they wouldn’t be good enough for Italia’90. Star man Míchel had lately been accused of disappearing on the big occasions. He had recently been substituted in Real Madrid’s league match against Barcelona, but avowed to show his capacity this time.

Hungary (4-4-2)

1 Péter Disztl29Honvéd
2 Sándor Sallai29Honvéd
3 Attila Pintér23Ferencváros
4 József Kellersub 72′24Ferencváros
5 Zoltán Bognár24Szombathely
6 Antal Róthsub h-t29Feyenoord
7 József Kiprich26Feyenoord
8 György Bognár 70′28Toulon
9 Kálmán Kovács24Auxerre
10 Lajos Détári (c)26Olympiakos
11 István Vincze22Lecce

12 István Kozmaon h-t24Dunfermline
15 Imre Bodaon 72′28Olympiakos Volos
x Róbert Jován21MTK
x József Fitos29Panathinaikos
x István Gulyás29Békécsaba
Manager: Bertalan Bicskei

Spain (4-4-2)

1 Andoni Zubizarreta (c)28Barcelona
2 Miguel Chendo28Real Madrid
3 Manuel Jiménez25Sevilla
4 Genar Andrinúa25Athletic Bilbao
5 Manuel Sanchís24Real Madrid
6 Roberto 61′27Barcelona
7 Manolosub 86′24Atlético Madrid
8 Míchel26Real Madrid
9 Julio Salinassub 68′27Barcelona
10 Martín Vázquez24Real Madrid
11 Villarroya23Real Zaragoza

12 Tomás Reñones29Atlético Madrid
13 José Manuel Ochotorena28Valencia
14 Fernando Hierroon 86′21Real Madrid
15 Miguel Pardezaon 68′24Real Zaragoza
16 Ramón Vázquez García25Sevilla
Manager: Luis Suárez

Tactical line-ups

Match Report

First half:
Bicskei had picked an attacking XI and it became clear from the word ‘go’ that they were looking for that important win. Unfortunately in a revealing way: Hungary pressed their opponents without any structure or cohesion, and so their team became stretched. This gave Spain acres of spaces to play the ball forward into, and they immediately created a series of near-opportunities. Pressing a team which is so comfortable on the ball is a risque, and the unsymphonic effort of it made Hungary vulnerable. Important playmakers or quasi-playmakers like Sanchís, Míchel and Roberto were all thriving from the start. It is almost rare to see such an open match right from kick-off, but Hungary were really asking for it.

Spain went close a couple of times, almost looking dangerous every time they rewon possession from the somewhat naïve Hungarian side, which were attacking-minded while at the same time not so adept to carry the ball past the midway line. The one Hungarian chance created in the opening stage was however a good opportunity, and it was as a result of a counter-attack (which Hungary sadly never had been eager to exploit in these qualifiers) with Détári in the creative role and with Gy. Bognár as the runner who finished the attack. Why had Bicskei not stressed this aspect of the game for his players? It is probably by far Hungary’s best card to play.

Kiprich was finally back in the team had taken his usual role on the right arm of the attack, looking to use his unorthodox mix of physique and skill to get past defenders. He was unlucky to be whistled off on a few occasions, but clearly showed his good intent. A clear upgrade after the very quiet Fischer in the previous game. Soon, however, Kiprich single-handedly set up both Gy. Bognár and K. Kovács by using his dribbling skills and fighting spirit. Gy. Bognár hesitated, but K. Kovács fired a shot that Zubizarreta did well to save. It had not been the qualification that Kiprich had expected, but now he ignited his team with his playing style, that so often is difficult for the opposition to predict. He even forced Zubizarreta into full stretch with a volley outside the penalty area, making Hungary for a little while looking the more dangerous side.

Hungary had been saved in Belfast by individual brilliance, so could not a moment of genius by Kiprich make their day this time too? But Spain had such spaces to play in and were given so many opportunities to catch the Hungarians out of balance that their goal sooner or later had to happen. Antal Róth was deployed in a – for him – unusual role as defensive midfielder, and it is hard to say whether he was out of place, struggling with match form or given a hopeless task because of the Hungarian tactics. The Spaniards over-loaded the midfield with willing runs and neat passing, and it was a joy to see players like Martín Vászquez and Míchel succeed with their combination play. Spain’s first goal was yet another counter-attack, resulting from Martín Vászquez stealing the ball from a nonchalant Gy. Bognár on the midway line; Manolo made of his standard runs down the right channel and crossed the ball to Julio Salinas in front of goal, who made no mistake. 0-1, and even though Hungary had had their moments, this felt like the expected outcome. They have in so many games been careless in possession, and this time they would be punished.

0-2 resulted from a lovely built-up attack by Spain: one of their best in the qualifiers. It all started with Détári making one of his many sloppy passes, an attempt to penetrate the Spanish defence that simply landed in the feet of Sanchís. Spain immediately looked to make a counter-attack, but seeing that they couldn’t catch the opposition in a lack of balance, decided to slow down play. Still, however, and with more than 20 touches, they managed to play their way through the Hungarian defence and find the goal. The attack seemed to stop when Manolo didn’t quite get his shot on goal, but Míchel came shuttling forward, arriving late in the box to place the ball in a most beautiful manner between a defender and the post. Fantastic play by Spain, while – we must confess – the Hungarian defensive structure again looked to be in complete shambles; despite having nearly all their men behind the ball, they failed to deny Spain big spaces on the pitch, and their aggressivity was second-rate. It was deplorable, but much the same melody that Bicskei had declared himself happy with in Belfast.

There had been joy on the faces of the Spanish players after that goal. They had been relieved to get the first goal, while the second one made them burst with happiness. Now, however, they might have relaxed too much (it is well-known that teams often are the most vulnerable after scoring themselves), for Hungary soon reduced the score to 1-2. Attila Pintér had stayed up front after a corner, and he was served by Gy. Bognár, who made one of his clever runs off the ball, to hammer it in behind Zubizarreta. Hats off also to Kiprich, whose deft chip to find Gy. Bognár was another good attacking contribution from that part – an ingenuous moment that should be studied in slow-motion. Kiprich and Gy. Bognár had showed such qualities before, while noone would have expected Pintér to finish the attack.

Luis Suárez must anyway have been delighted with what he had seen in the 1st half. Spain were in the large superior, exploting the spaces that their opposition freely gave away. Hungary did show attacking prowess, particularly with Kiprich, but it was only with exceptions that they managed to threaten Spain.

Second half
Bicskei could impossibly have been happy with his team’s shape before the break, and decided to replace Róth with István Kozma. It is hard to tell whether Róth had been lacking in form or if the team had made his job impossible, but it probably was a combination of both. He never looked like closing down the opposition in an efficient way, leaving the midfield open to Spanish attacks.

It is rare that very eventful first halves continue in the same vein after the break. Most often managers adjust and take a more cautious approach. But if there wasn’t the same number of big chances in the second half, at least the frenetic tempo continued, and this was first and foremost a result of Hungary’s need for a win and the very attacking strategy Bicskei had chosen from kick-off. Hungary now had even more urgency about them, and evidently a stronger will to commit in battling for the ball. It was clear that they were going to give their effort for Italia’90 one last go, and this attitude was admirable. It meant that they managed to keep more hold of the ball and denied Spain too much presence on their own half.

Détári has too often wasted possession in these qualifiers, but time and again he does of course show his class. As when he released Vincze down the left flank with a penetrating pass, with Vincze crossing the ball into the area and Gy. Bognár apparently finding the equalizer for Hungary. The goal was however ruled out, as Kiprich was deemed to have pushed Jiménez. But it was a good move, and there were signs that the new urgency made the Hungarians adopt a more direct approach that suits them well. Their problem remained, however, to bring the ball past the midway line: Détári was often seen pushing forward, and the task was too often left to the defenders. Kozma, who in later years would become famous for his skills in Scotland, appeared as a very different for Hungary, and showed very little interest at all in helping his team building up play. There was an urgency there, but the skills let them down.

Hungary may have had the initiative, but they were still vulnerable to counter-attacks. The introduction of Kozma helped somewhat to close down the Spanish midfield, but clearly it was not the case that one (perhaps better) player alone could improve things: the Hungarian team was too unorganized to ever exert efficient pressure on Míchel & co., who had a too easy job in playing their way forward. Thankfully for the home side,  Spain seemed somewhat more cautious to send men forward after the break. Luis Suárez must have told his men to show some prudence, given their 2-1 lead. A free-kick that resulted from one of these Spanish counter-attacks saw Martín Vázquez strike the ball with real venom, only for P. Disztl to follow up with a great save; shortly after Manolo made one of his many runs on the right side of the field and crossed a ball in that Julio Salinas nearly converted into a goal (a situation so similar to 0-1, which shows that Spain had found the weak points in the Hungarian defence). Hungary were pressing on, making a few decent opportunities, but it was Spain who mustered the big chances.

Midway through the half (68′) Luis Suárez replaced Julio Salinas, who had become less efficient in the 2nd half, with Pardeza, who reportedly had been very close to starting the game. Pardeza is a player much in the mould of Manolo, but Spain could need two runners upfront with all the spaces given them.

Time was running up for Hungary. Too many of Détári breakthrough passes went straight into the feet of the opposition, Kiprich (now often seen on the left side?!) tried the impossible and didn’t always succeed. To increase the chances of getting that equalizer, Bicskei substituted left back Keller for attacker Imre Boda, switching the formation to a very bold 3-4-3 (not too dissimilar from the formation Mezey had used in the 2nd half against N. Ireland) or maybe 3-3-4. The new formation saw Kiprich taking place at the wide right, after spending much time wandering to the left side in the 2nd half. Back in his favoured position, Kiprich immediately set up K. Kovács to make a spectacular bicycle kick that unfortunately missed the target.

It soon became clear however that Hungary now were dreadfully exposed at the back and Spain strengthened by Pardeza’s willing runs. As Hungary now had lost all balance after Bicskei’s gamble, Spain looked dangerous every time they got the ball and could release their forwards. Good Spanish chances went wasted. And then, when everything looked as if Spain would get their third, Hungary did eventually find the equalizer. For once they managed to rewin the ball high up the field, and unbelievably this player was Attila Pintér, who advanced a few metres before firing a long shot. 2-2. Zubizarreta had been covered and probably also misjudged the ball’s direction. With ten minutes left, Hungary were desperate to find the third goal. Unfortunately they didn’t really manage to threaten Zubizarreta again, and the game ended with a draw 2-2.

As Mr. Courtney’s final whistle sounded, Luis Suárez, followed by a crowd of Spanish journalists, ran onto the pitch. Spain had qualified for Italia’90. Hungary, on the other hand, had in all likelihood missed their first World Cup since 1974, as they stood before an impossible task on the final day: they now had to beat Spain, while Rep. of Ireland had to lose in Valletta.

Hungary came out with a very attacking strategy – perhaps too attacking for their own good, as they seemed unbalanced and vulnerable to counter-attacks from the beginning to the end. They did however score 2 goals on Spain, thanks to defender Pintér, and star man Kiprich had his best match in the qualifiers. But they were too much exposed backwards, and just couldn’t stop the Spaniards from overloading them with quick, neat passes and driving runs. Spain always looked like scoring, but credit must go to Hungary for scoring two goals against them: if they didn’t produce as many chances as their opponents, they did show good fighting spirit.


P. Disztl 7.1
Has to make a few really good saves.
Sallai 6.8
Busy as usual.
Pintér 7.0
Some bad distribution and takes out far too much depth. But two goals and generally good sweeping.
Keller 6.5
Again a relatively quiet day down his left hand side.
Z. Bognár 6.6
Róth 6.1
Didn’t look comfortable in this role. Out of match fitness?
(Kozma 6.6
Better than Róth in closing down, but he too is outnumbered by Spaniards. Almost invisible when Hungary have the ball)
Kiprich 7.3
Shows real flair and vision. Very difficult to handle. But is also too eager sometimes, and makes unnecessary free-kicks. Wanders too much after the break, and becomes more inefficient.
Gy. Bognár 6.8
As usual, full of initiative off the ball. Penalised for his loss of the ball on 0-1.
K. Kovács 6.8
Knows how to get himself in positions for finishing, although there is no goal this time. No success in link-up play.
Détári 6.7
Again the creative force, but again not always very precise in his passing.
Vincze 6.7
Tried, although he doesn’t get involved a lot on his left side.

Zubizarreta 6.6
Chendo 6.8
Jiménez 6.6
Andrinúa 6.6
M. Sanchís 7.0
Starts a number of attacks – back to the trend from the 1988 Euros?
Roberto 6.8
Leaves it for Míchel and Martín Vázquez to run the show in midfield.
Manolo 7.3
Often dangerous when running in the channels.
Míchel 7.3
Julio Salinas 6.8
Martín Vázquez 7.6
Exploits the big spaces left by Hungary with his brilliant technique.
Villarroya 6.8
Decent enough; keeps his width, good work rate. Probably doesn’t offer Spain anything extra, but good for the team’s balance in 4-4-2.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. simon

    Hungary Subs bench

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