12 mins: A free kick for England out on the left. Bowen takes it and loops diagonally towards Stones, haring in from the right. Stones flushes a header goalwards, but he’s so far out he can’t trouble Dibusz in the Hungary goal.
10 minutes: Schafer goes down, James having accidentally landed on his right leg as the pair tussled for a loose ball. It looks as though he’s tweaked his knee. After a slightly worrying pause in play, he’s checked over and helped back up onto his feet. He’ll go on.
8 mins: England are very much in the ancestry during these early exchanges. Saka probes down the left. Gallagher down the right. Both exits lead to goal kicks, but Gareth Southgate will be happy with the energy England are displaying.
6 mins: James, patrolling the left flank tonight, makes excellent ground down the left and dinks a cross towards Bowen at the far post. It’s a bit high, and Bowen stretches every sinew to reach it. He manages to head down, but not with any great power, and Nagy blocks. England claim a penalty, and the ball did hit the top of Nagy’s arm, but intent, distance and position of arm are all in Hungary’s favour.
5 minutes: It’s a gorgeous sunny evening in Wolverhampton, by the way. No need for the famous Molineux floodlights just yet.
4 mins: Saka makes ground down the left. The ball’s switched to Walker on the other flank. His shot is blocked. A confident start from England, but then they started well against Italy too. Can they keep it up this time?
2 min: England quickly take control of possession. They pass it around a bit. The crowd sings another chorus of their favorite new song.
It’s only England who take the knee before kick-off … to warm applause from the home fans. Hungary get the ball rolling.
The players are out! England wear white, Hungary cherry red. A capacity crowd of 32,000 at Molineux roar heartily. Such a change of atmosphere from Saturday night and Italy, a match played technically behind closed doors due to the havoc wreaked at the Euro 2020 final. That’s not stopping England’s fans taking the moral high ground over Hungary, whose national anthem is jeered and momentarily drowned out with a chant of “You racist bastards, we know what you are.” We’ll be off in a minute.
Gareth Southgate talks to Channel 4. “The players have had real intense tests in the last couple of games, and we need to press well tonight, to really unsettle Hungary, and we’ve put energy in, players who like to do those sort of things. This role suits Conor Gallagher, him and Jude Bellingham, it’s probably their best position. They recover a lot of balls. We’ve got a crowd in tonight, and they’ll be raised by the team getting in and around Hungary. We’ve recovered from the defeat in Budapest and put in two good performances against top-level nations. Now we’ve got to get the win, there’s always that expectation with England. We saw people really excited in the streets coming in, and we want them to leave that way.”
There’s already been one big result in the Nations League this evening. Scotland, fresh from being totally undressed by the Republic of Ireland in Dublin last weekend, quickly went 1-0 down in Armenia, Grant Hanley falling over on six minutes and allowing Tigran Barseghyan to scoot down the right and cut back for Vahan Bichakhchyan to finish at the near post. But on 14 minutes, Stuart Armstrong latched onto a botched bicycle kick by Che Adams and slotted the equaliser, then one minute before the break, Arman Hovhannisyan was sent packing for a wild slide on Nathan Patterson, then putting the head on John McGinn in the incident’s aftermath.
It was pretty much all Scotland after that. Before the half-time whistle, Armstrong turned cutely in the Armenian box and swiveled his and Scotland’s second into the right-hand corner. On 50 minutes, McGinn steered home from close range, having been teed up by Patterson, then three minutes later Armstrong sent Adams away on the break for a fourth. Just before the end, Kamo Hovhannisyan was shown a straight red for a potential leg-breaker on Lewis Ferguson (who thankfully remains in tact). FULL TIME: Armenia 1-4 Scotland.
England make nine changes to the starting line-up named for the goalless draw with Italy. Aaron Ramsdale and Reece James are the only players to retain their places. There are recalls for Harry Kane, Kyle Walker, Bukayo Saka, Kalvin Phillips, Jude Bellingham, Jarrod Bowen, John Stones and Marc Guehi, while Conor Gallagher gets his first run-out of this international break. Barnsley’s attacking midfielder Callum Styles, who qualifies for Hungary through his grandmother, starts again for Hungary, having played 87 minutes of last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Germany.
England versus Hungary! It can only mean this…
… while the Hungarians rocking up to Molineux instantly brings to mind this …
… so it’s a showdown with an awful lot of history, including some of the less sepia-toned variety …
… and the latest installation kicks off at 7.45pm BST. It’s on!