Bulgaria left feeling peckish as Hungary feast
Marco Rossi’s Hungary made it five games unbeaten in six matches against Bulgaria, as they started their UEFA Euro 2024 qualification campaign with a resounding 3-0 victory over the Balkan nation.
Having impressed at Euro 2020, Hungary are aiming to reach three consecutive European Championship finals in a row for the first time in their history, and the victory against a Bulgaria side without a major tournament appearance since 2004 looked all but secured at the break. Dancing their way to a three-goal HT advantage, Bálint Vécsei was the man to start things off for the hosts, poking home from inside the six-yard box after Bulgaria goalkeeper Daniel Naumov spilt the ball into the midfielder’s path.
Considering they are amongst the favourites to qualify from Group G, it was no surprise to see Hungary assert their dominance on Bulgaria, adding a second in spectacular fashion via talisman Dominik Szoboszlai. Taking aim from 20 yards, the RB Leipzig dangerman’s scintillating strike was complemented by Martin Ádám’s composed finish just 13 minutes later. Latching onto a bouncing ball inside the 18-yard box, the striker’s calm first-time finish sailed beyond Naumov, capping off a dominant opening 45 minutes for the home side.
In command and on course for their first win of the qualification campaign, the Magyars took their foot off the gas somewhat, allowing the visitors to enjoy sustained periods of possession. Nonetheless, the chances continued to be created by a rampant Hungarian front line, with Szoboszlai denied by goalkeeper Naumov, who thwarted a well-struck effort with a sharp close-range save. At the opposite end, a string of half-chances forced Dénes Dibusz to stay on his toes between the Hungary sticks, but Bulgaria were unable to threaten the home side’s clean sheet.
While Serbia may be the highest-ranked team in Group G, a free-flowing Hungary side with a history of qualifying for major competitions will harbour hopes of pipping them to top spot. Demonstrating fluidity in attack and resilience in defence, Rossi’s men were in the ascendancy from start to finish and prevented the away side from regaining a foothold in the contest. Meanwhile, Bulgaria, the nation that brought the football world the likes of Hristo Stoichkov, Martin Petrov and Dimitar Berbatov, already have a lot of work to do if they want to be one of the 24 teams in Germany next summer.