Jordan Pickford stood out for England as the Three Lions suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Hungary at the Puskas Arena on Saturday.
The game ebbed and flowed throughout the ninety minutes, with England barely dominating the proceedings for long periods. The two teams traded blows in the early exchanges, with Jarrod Bowen, Harry Kane, Dominik Szoboszlai and Zsolt Nagy snatching at the openings in the first quarter of an hour. But neither side could break the deadlock before half-time.
Bukayo Saka came the closest to scoring early in the second half, with the Arsenal forward forcing a save out of Peter Gulacsi following a bursting run into Hungary’s box. The stalemate finally ended midway through the second period, with Hungary grabbing the lead from the spot.
Referee Artur Soares Dias pointed to the spot after Reece James brought down Zsolt Nagy inside England’s box. But there was an air of controversy around the call as James had won the ball and passed it to Jordan Pickford before he tripped Nagy. Nonetheless, the decision stood, and Szoboszlai made no error in beating Pickford from the spot.
England dominated the proceedings for much of the remainder of the game, but Hungary came the closest to scoring again, as Andras Schafer made a meal of a close-range effort after the ball fell kindly to him. In the end, England failed to test Gulacsi, falling to a defeat in regulation time for the first time in nearly 18 months. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Gareth Southgate’s men.
The thoughts of the boss on tonight’s #NationsLeague defeat in Budapest:pic.twitter.com/RWc3mV0Fgo
— England (@England) June 4, 2022
Jordan Pickford: 7/10
Pickford was England’s standout performer, which speaks volumes about the job their attackers did on Saturday. The 28-year-old did well to kill the pace of the ball from Dominik Szoboszlai’s early effort before Conor Coady cleared it off the line. He also made a couple of other smart saves but could not have done anything to deny Szoboszlai from the spot.
Kyle Walker: 6/10
Walker ghosted through the game, with Hungary barely testing the Manchester City defender on Saturday. He came through the test well, proving his fitness before John Stones replaced him in the second half.
Conor Coady: 6/10
Coady was the best defender for England on Saturday, highlighted by his awareness to clear the ball off the line after Szboszlai’s deflected effort slowly clawed towards the goal. The experienced centre-back completed all but four of his attempted passes while winning two duels.
Conor Coady reflects on tonight's defeat: pic.twitter.com/g46CAnxAZg
— England (@England) June 4, 2022
Harry Maguire: 6/10
Maguire barely put a foot wrong and circulated possession smartly for the most part. The Manchester United captain even found Jarrod Bowen for a chance in the second half and opened up play nicely with some long balls. He did his part and was not to be blamed for England’s defeat.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5/10
Alexander-Arnold was the chief creator for England, but he was off his game, even though he created a couple of decent openings. The 23-year-old was suspect defensively, and Zsolt Nagy nearly gave him a cruel reminder of the same by coming close to scoring after drifting off him.
Jude Bellingham: 6/10
Bellingham blew hot and cold on Saturday, as the winning start to his England career ended with a whimper. The teenage prodigy looked to push England forward but lacked the cutting edge to make things happen in the final third. But Bellingham was colossal off the ball, completing numerous crucial defensive interventions.
Declan Rice: 6/10
Rice seemed somewhat shackled in an exclusively defensive role at the base of England’s midfield. But the 23-year-old still did his job reasonably well while circulating possession smartly. He won five duels while completing five tackles in a solid display.
James Justin: 5/10
Justin made his England debut on Saturday, but there was little to suggest why he should be on the flight to Qatar later this year for the World Cup ahead of Luke Shaw or Ben Chilwell. The Leicester City defender failed to strike chemistry with Mason Mount while hardly posing a threat from the left flank. He went off at half-time after picking up an injury.
Jarrod Bowen: 6/10
• 2014 – playing non-league football with Hereford
• 2022 – making his debut for England
Jarrod Bowen has had quite the journey! ? pic.twitter.com/88I1v3IgzN
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) June 4, 2022
Bowen finally made his England debut after months of clamouring from fans. And the West Ham United attacker was a lively presence on the right flank. But while he latched on to a couple of passes to muster up his shots on target, those efforts were never going to get the better of Peter Gulacsi. And his passing, like most of his teammates, left much to be desired.
Harry Kane: 5.5/10
Kane flitted in and out of the game on Saturday, and he had more work to do off the ball than on it due to the pressure that Hungary’s players mounted. The England captain managed a few shots but never troubled Gulacsi, and he gave possession away carelessly at times.
Mason Mount: 5/10
Southgate installed Mount on the left side of England’s attack, and the young playmaker struggled to make his mark. The 23-year-old offered little of substance, and his passing was horrendous as he completed only 55 per cent of his attempted passes. He failed to strike a chord with Justin on the left flank.
Bukayo Saka: 6/10
Saka was lively after replacing Justin and came the closest to scoring for England when he tested Gulacsi after a bursting run into Hungary’s box. But that was as good as it got for the young winger, who started fading after that and did not contribute much in the final third.
John Stones: 6/10
Stones replaced Manchester City teammate Kyle Walker on the right side of the back three and was solid for much of his stay on the pitch. He won seven duels while completing 95 per cent of his attempted passes, thereby ensuring smooth build-up plays from the back.
Reece James: 5/10
One can argue that the penalty call was harsh on James, and one would be right. But that still does not excuse the clumsiness to bring down Zsolt Nagy the way James did. His passing was a little lacklustre, although he played two key passes.
Jack Grealish: 6/10
Grealish had one brilliant exchange with Harry Kane late in the game and completed all but one of his attempted passes. But he could not carve out the openings that England desperately needed.
Kalvin Phillips: N/A
Phillips replaced Coady with ten minutes left but could not do much to help England get something out of the game.
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