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European Championship

Unforgettable! Fiola & Hungary fans provide golden moment in deserved draw with France

12:27 PM EDT 6/19/21
Attila Fiola Hungary France Euro 2020 GFX
Marco Rossi's side pulled off the shock of the tournament so far by holding the world champions to a 1-1 draw before a raucous crowd in Budapest

Hungary 1-1 France: Match Statistics

Attila Fiola is going to feature prominently in every highlights reel ever produced about Euro 2020.

The Hungary wing-back's opener in Saturday's dramatic 1-1 draw with France is already destined to be remembered as one of the tournament's golden moments.

It just wasn’t in the script, and that's what made it so beautiful.

Hungary manager Marco Rossi had spoken before the game about the gulf in quality between the sides.

“If their squad is worth €900 million, and we're only worth €60m, then we might see that difference on the pitch."

And he was right: there was a noticeable difference. The skill and guile of the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Greizmann was far superior to anything offered up by the hosts.

However, what they lacked in class, Hungary made up for in perseverance, grit and determination – all of which combined earned them a surprise point that keeps their qualification hopes alive going into the final game, against Germany.

Make no mistake about it: the home side – and their fans – deserved their draw. 

In a world still social-distancing due to the pandemic, a full stadium in Budapest is truly an incredible sight to behold. It is no wonder UEFA has the venue on its contingency list to host the semi-finals and the final if an agreement cannot be reached with the UK Government over changing quarantine rules for those hoping to attend games at Wembley.

But, even if those monumental matches are moved here, it is unlikely you will hear a roar louder than the one which greeted Fiola’s great goal just before the break.

The passionate fans who have served as Hungary's 12th man in both of their Group F games to date were rewarded for their continual support with a moment they will never forget. And they met it with an almighty roar, as 55,000 of the 60,000 people in attendance were gripped by delirium. 

Nobody had expected Hungary to score, of course. France had won their last five games in all competitions without conceding once. Having kicked off their campaign with an impressive 1-0 win over Germany, Les Bleus were expected to sweep their hosts aside with the minimum of fuss.

However, despite having to qualify for the Euros through the Nations League play-offs, Hungary had already shown they are not just here to make up the numbers by frustrating Portugal for 84 minutes in their tournament opener.

Rossi’s side were once again resilient and well-organised, though Karim Benzema, who has never scored in a European Championship, should have given Les Bleus the lead after being brilliantly set up by Mbappe during the first half.

Mbappe and Greizmann were also constant threats but Hungary dug deep, defended in numbers and did an excellent job of keeping the world champions at bay.

Man of the match Laszlo Kleinheisler was superb in the middle of the park, snapping at the heels of Paul Pogba and Greizmann at every given opportunity.

But the relentless work rate of the entire team, and the deafening roar inside the stadium, was what kept powering them on.

"To be honest, after the match against Portugal we had three or four difficult days from a psychological perspective, so I wasn’t sure that we would be able to have this performance," Rossi admitted afterwards. "But we gave the fans something exceptional: two hours of adrenaline, emotion and tension."

Fiola’s fine finish in additional time in the first half was, certainly, just reward for Hungary's heroics, but there was always that nagging feeling that France's quality would eventually result in a goal.

Historically, France hold the European Championship record for coming from behind to win after trailing at the break but of greater significance was the abundance of attacking options available to coach Didier Deschamps.

It was always likely to be a case of when they would score – not if.

The post had already denied substitute Ousmane Dembele an equaliser when Griezmann levelled matters from close range, after Hungary had failed to properly clear a cut-back from Mbappe.

It was the Barcelona attacker's seventh goal at the Euros – only Cristiano Ronaldo (11) and Michel Platini (9) have scored more in the competition’s history.

A strong hand from Peter Gulacsi denied Mbappe as the clock ticked towards 90, with the Hungarians putting their bodies on the line to try block every shot on goal. 

France will be frustrated that, after 15 attempts, they couldn’t find a winner and Deschamps argued afterwards that his players had struggled with the heat.

But Hungary had no such issues and enormous credit must go to their players for continuing to fight right to the death.

They did their nation proud, and as the Hungarian fans danced out of the exits at the Puskas Arena, a deafening chorus of Ria Ria Hungaria could still be heard within the arena.

The atmosphere is likely to prove as unforgettable as Fiola's goal.