A Dominik Szoboszlai penalty ended England’s record 22-game unbeaten run as Gareth Southgate’s side suffered a 1-0 loss to Hungary in their Nations League opener.
The Three Lions had not lost since 2020 outside of penalty shoot-outs – their best ever sequence – but left Budapest empty-handed in their first competitive match of a World Cup year.
The decisive goal came from the spot after substitute Reece James was penalised for a trailing arm on Zsolt Nagy in the box, allowing Szoboszlai to score 24 minutes from time and earn Hungary’s first win against England since 1962.
It was a result welcomed by around 35,000 fans in a behind-closed-doors match, as children were allowed to attend in line with UEFA sanctions despite a stadium ban for racist behaviour at Euro 2020.
And there were audible boos from those in attendance as England took the knee ahead of kick-off, back in Budapest where their players were the subject of abuse last year.
That was the most notable incident for a long time in a drab encounter, although Hungary came closest in the first half when Conor Coady was forced to clear Szoboszlai’s low effort off the line.
England showed little improvement after half-time, despite one strong run and shot from Bukayo Saka, and they were punished as James conceded the penalty and Hungary netted from the spot.
The impetus to rescue a result belatedly fired the visitors into action, with Jude Bellingham seeing a close-range effort blocked and Coady dragging a header just wide.
But the Three Lions’ pursuit of an equaliser proved to be in vain, and Hungary held on for a famous victory, even passing up a huge chance for a second through Andras Schafer.
What does it mean? Rusty England fail to fire
At the end of a busy season, Southgate would have hoped his side’s trip to Hungary could have eased them into a busy June schedule, with theoretically tougher challenges against Germany and Italy yet to come.
But his side, picked in a 3-4-3 formation, struggled to acquit themselves, allowing their hosts to control the tempo in the Budapest heat. England were ultimately unlocked by a penalty and could not respond despite a late rally.
Bowen shows potential on debut
Dropped into the starting line-up for his debut, West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen acquitted himself well on the international stage and was arguably England’s most dangerous threat, attempting four shots – more than any other player.
However, fellow new boy James Justin was forced off through injury at the interval after a tough first half.
Hungary continue Nations League charge
Hungary had been promoted in consecutive campaigns to reach Nations League A, where they continued their strong form.
The hosts have now lost just one of their past 10 matches in the competition, winning six of them. They have scored in all seven of their home Nations League fixtures.
England travel to Germany to continue their Nations League campaign on Tuesday, while Hungary are also on the road in Italy.