After the disappointing result at home in the final of the Euro 2020, it was time for England to come back strongly. They travelled to Hungary and hit four times to script a dominating victory.

A partisan 60,000 strong crowd greeted the sides into the Puskas Arena, and when the England players took a knee in a stand against racism and discrimination, they were greeted with a chorus of boos from the home supporters.

It was a hostile away atmosphere – something England had not experienced since before the pandemic.

At the Puskas Arena, it has not been a rosy experience for some of the top teams in Europe. The French were halted for 84 minutes. In the Euro, they had been a resolved unit blessed with a lot of fighting spirit. They did test England with their determination, but Gareth Southgate’s men never panicked and always searched the opportunity for scoring goals.

For all the possession, it was the transition that proved to be the key – Declan Rice winning the ball back smartly for the first goal, Kalvin Phillips coming up with the interception for the second. Once they were given space, the front four were just too good.

The quartet of Mason Mount, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish spent only 37 minutes on the pitch together at the Euros with the latter starting only one of England’s seven matches.

Grealish was in the team here and his link-up play was excellent.

It was his pass that put Mount away in the build-up for the first goal and he twice put Kane one-on-one with the goalkeeper before finally getting his assist by laying the ball off to Rice for the fourth. That partnership with Luke Shaw looks really promising.

But it was Sterling who was the man of the match. He was the one who looked most likely to make something happen from the outset. He completed more dribbles in the first half than every other player on the pitch combined, driving at the Hungary defence.

The intelligence of his positioning earned him the first goal, the early cross for Kane set up the second.

England doubled their lead eight minutes later as Sterling turned provider. Mount’s flick released Sterling, who crossed for Kane, who could have had a hat-trick in the second half, to head home to give the visitors breathing space.

The game was made safe when Maguire powered a header past Gulacsi to secure a comfortable victory, but reports of racism aimed at Sterling and Bellingham began to filter through.

It did not deter England, who made it four three minutes from time as Grealish teed up Rice, whose low strike burst through Gulacsi’s grasp to wrap up an excellent night’s work for Southgate and his side.

The match left a bad taste among football fans as it was marred with racial abuse.

The England players were also pelted with cups thrown from the crowd after Sterling had opened the scoring in Budapest.

Reporting from inside the stadium in Budapest, Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett confirmed he had heard “sporadic monkey chants from various areas of the crowd, directed primarily towards Raheem Sterling when he has touched the ball – and including when he set up Harry Kane for the second goal.”

“I have seen four separate individuals specifically involved in the racist chanting. The most recent of those was directed at Jude Bellingham, as he warmed up right in front of us, and close to the Hungarian ultras.”

FIFA have said in a statement: “First and foremost, FIFA strongly rejects any form of racism and violence and has a very clear zero-tolerance stance for such behaviour in football.”

“FIFA will take adequate actions as soon as it receives match reports concerning yesterday’s Hungary-England game.”

“With regards to the previous UEFA sanction against Hungary, please note that as specified by UEFA at the time, this sanction is to be served in UEFA competitions.”

UEFA added, “UEFA strongly condemns any discriminatory/racist behaviour and we will continue to lead the fight against racism and discrimination in the game.”

“The alleged incidents happened in a FIFA competition and do therefore not fall under the jurisdiction of our disciplinary bodies.”

Having been told about the abuse after the game, England captain Harry Kane described the incidents as “totally unacceptable.”

The FA released a statement after the game which read, “It is extremely disappointing to hear reports of discriminatory actions towards some of our England players.”

“We will be asking FIFA to investigate the matter. We continue to support the players and staff in our collective determination to highlight and tackle discrimination in all its forms.”


Keeping in mind the behavior of some of the mean-minded fans at Budapest, the way England won, was a fitting reply against racism.

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