Soccer-Hungary's late meltdown against Portugal disappointing, says coach


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup Qualifiers Europe - Group I - San Marino v Hungary - San Marino Stadium, Serravalle, San Marino - March 28, 2021 Hungary coach Marco Rossi REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary hoped to surprise holders Portugal at Euro 2020 and held out for more than 80 minutes before a late collapse resulted in a 3-0 defeat which left coach Marco Rossi disappointed and accepting the blame for substitutions that did not work.

For a fleeting moment the near-capacity crowd at the Puskas Arena went crazy thinking the home side had taken a shock lead through Szabolcs Schon only to be deflated by an offside call.

Portugal then struck three quick goals including a Cristiano Ronaldo double that Rossi said was partly his fault as he made substitutions after the first goal that "clearly did not work."

"Three goals within 10 minutes obviously leaves me very disappointed," he told a press conference. "You can concede a goal, that was unfortunate, but you need to bounce back better, keep your shape and not take too many risks."

"I am very disappointed by the result, not the performance. Until the 84th minute we did very well, we were very organised defensively, and in the second half we even got better once we got hold of the ball.

"There may be a three-goal difference between Portugal and ourselves, but not necessarily based on what you saw today."

Hungary's gritty defence broke up attack after attack from the Portuguese, although the visitors' goal was never under any real threat in the opening Group F clash.

After the offside call and Guerreiro's goal, a low shot that bounced off a defender and tricked keeper Peter Gulacsi, Hungary should have got to grips with the game much quicker, Rossi said.

Ronaldo converted a penalty in the 87th to become the all-time record scorer at European Championship finals and weaved through the home defence to double his tally minutes later.

"Portugal played as we expected them to," Rossi said, adding Ronaldo rarely needs too many chances to make opponents pay.

"After the first goal the substitutions I made did not solve the problem. We were trailing, we needed to do something, I did that, and clearly I got it wrong. I have no problem saying that, I was wrong. I hold my hands up for that."

Hungary will have to regroup for their next match against world champions France on Saturday, when the weather is forecast to be a sizzling 36 degrees Celsius, before facing Germany.

Regarding the near-capacity crowd, which cheered on the home side from start to finish except for a stunned silence as the Portuguese unleashed their late-game scoring blitz, Rossi said he wished the team could have played like the fans cheered.

"But we gave them absolutely everything," he added. "We are disappointed that the game went this way but I couldn't ask anything more form the players."

(Reporting by Marton Dunai @mdunai; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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