Debutant Nikolić inspires Hungary win in vain

Hungary 2-0 Andorra
A goalscoring debut from Nemanja Nikolić handed Hungary a 2-0 win in their final Group D match but they missed out on a play-off spot.

Ádám Szalai of Hungary vies with Marcio Vieira of Andorr
Ádám Szalai of Hungary vies with Marcio Vieira of Andorr ©AFP/Getty Images

A goalscoring debut from Nemanja Nikolić gave Hungary a 2-0 win in their final FIFA World Cup qualifying Group D match but they missed out on a play-off spot.

Hungary will look back on the 92nd-minute goal conceded against Romania in Budapest in March, which turned a victory into a draw, as the defining moment in this campaign and tonight's match against Andorra was played with a sense of foreboding at what was to come. Sure enough Hungary won, but Romania's 2-0 defeat of Estonia gave them the all-important runners-up place.

If the first half was scrappy, both sides emerged with renewed vigour after the break and Cristian Martínez nearly gave Andorra a shock lead at the start of the second half – his low 20-metre drive flying wide. Hungary, predictably dominant for long periods, soon capitalised, Nikolić heading down into the far right side of the net from Balázs Dszudszák's left-wing cross from the byline.

Vladimir Koman might have extended the home team's lead but placed the ball wide of the right post having beaten the offside trap. No matter: Nikolić then pressured Ildefons Lima into slicing the ball over Andorra goalkeeper Ferran Pol and into the net after another dangerous centre from the left by Dzsudzsák. Andorra's misery was compounded near the end when Moises San Nicolas was dismissed for a second bookable offence.