Group F was the Group of Death and the progress to the next round would be a stifling challenge. There is no doubt about the quality of the teams like World Champions France, defending Euro Champions Portugal and the tough nut Germany – while, the fighting spirit of the Hungarians would a challenge for everyone and they proved that. Sadly, Hungary, like Poland exit with their heads high.

At the Allianz Arena, Germany wearing black got the game underway.  At Munich, the tension among the German fans was palpable and the fear turned to reality when Roland Sallai whipped a delicious cross in from the right that Adam Szalai stooped to head powerfully into the corner past Manuel Neuer, who could do nothing to stop it.

Out of nowhere, and quite unexpectedly, Hungary took the lead, who faced Germany in a major event since that heartbreak at Switzerland in 1954.

That goal had the Germans on the back foot and they were alert – a bit sloppy as well.

At Budapest, the match was just 31 minutes old when Moutinho curled the free-kick into the box. Lloris came to try to punch it clear but he missed it and caught Danilo in the face instead – Paul Pogba was protesting against the decision to award a penalty.

The replay showed, Danilo got to the ball first and headed it onto Lloris’ arm, which then clattered the midfielder in the face.  It was a penalty and Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to take it and he did not fail.

Portugal were leading by 1-0.

At Munich, the Germans advanced forward and left spaces – the spirited Hungarians loved to advance and exploit those spaces during the transitions.

Their wing-backs are getting up and down so quickly that when Germany won back possession and attack, a wall of Magyars had been set up in front of them in next to no time. And, when Germany lost possession, the Magyars posed threat.

The Germans created opportunities – Mats Hummels clattered the bar with a header!

Toni Kroos was stitching together the moves in midfield. Hummels played a Modric-like outside-of-the-foot dink into the box that was cleared and then Joshua Kimmich whipped a vicious ball to the back post that just evaded Leroy Sane.

The Germans were picking up the tempo gradually.

Hungary had reversed into a ridiculously deep formation.

Adam Szalai raced into the box and drops a shoulder to make space for a shot past Hummels, but the wily old German saw it coming and blocked his attempted shot. A moment later Fiola attempted a cross in towards Szalai but Rudiger spotted the danger and stooped to clear.

The storm clouds had brought thunder and an absolute monsoon down on Munich.

While it was all wet at Munich, in Budapest, the atmosphere was warm and electrifying with France searching for an equalizer.

The French repose was not fiery enough and was a bit ragged.

At the stroke of halftime, Kylian Mbappé went down in the vicinity of Semedo as he tried to reach a pass from Pogba. A penalty was awarded and it was debatable.

After the VAR check the penalty decision stayed and Karim Benzema beat Rui Patricio to equalize – his first goal for France since 2015.

France missed five of their last eleven penalties, but not this time.

France have been lethargic and predictable but they go into the break level thanks to a silly penalty.

The match commenced after the break and in no time, Benzema struck again!

Pogba released Benzema with a masterful pass from deep. The Real Madrid striker finished first-time, firing in low off the far post from eight yards. The flag goes up for offside, but a VAR review confirmed that Benzema had timed his run to perfection.

At Munich Germany bossed the possession and deep into the second half,  Fiola hacked Kimmich down. From the free-kick, Gulacsi came flying off his line and missed the Kimmich free-kick. Hummels headed it towards the goal behind him and Kai Havertz nodded it home.

Germany still had not breathed a sigh of relief as Schafer runs onto a hooked through-ball and Schafer got past the onrushing Neuer. Germany were asleep. Hungary weren’t.

Sloppy work from the Germans and as the drama was unfolding at Munich, back in Budapest, Koundée inadvertently blocked a Ronaldo cross from the byline with his arm. He was very close to the ball but his arms were flapping in front of him.

Yet another penalty to Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo scored.

He drew his country level while equalling the all-time international scoring record.

At Munich Joachim Low was making changes – productive substitutions were made to inject more attacking intent. Hungary decided to sit deep and Germany were controlling the ball.

With just six minutes remaining, Goretzka hammered a shot from the edge of the area past Gulacsi to cause uproar – it was like a breath of fresh air and as if a huge stone was removed from the chest of Low.

The Hungarians failed to cut through the German defence and the score stayed 2-2 – they are through to the Round of 16 as the third team as in Budapest, heroic efforts from Patricio kept Portugal hopes alive, who shared points with the World Champions.


The Group of Death lived up to the expectations and with that, a cracking group stage contest came to an end.

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