Zalaegerszegi TE 1-0 Manchester Utd FC Hungary's champions recorded a shock victory.
Zalaegerszegi TE 1-0 Manchester United FC
Hungarian champions Zalaegerszegi TE recorded the biggest win in their history with a shock victory over the 1999 UEFA Champions League winners.
Substitute Béla Koplárovics was the hero for the hosts when he swept the ball into the net from close range with just 20 seconds remaining. It was the classic counterattack and left United with no chance to hit back as wild celebrations broke out around Budapest's Ferénc Puskas stadium.
United, who had been forced to leave record signing Rio Ferdinand at home for the trip to Hungary after the England defender twisted an ankle in a friendly, were dealt a blow in the sixth minute when centre-back Wes Brown limped off. He has a similar injury to Ferdinand and looks a major doubt for the second leg in a fortnight.
Hit the post
By then United, who finished third in the Premiership last season, could have been 1-0 up. Norwegian striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær latched on to a pass from Ruud van Nistelrooij, but crashed his shot against the post with goalkeeper Sasa Ilic beaten.
The home side refused to be overawed by their opponents and controlled much of the play in midfield, despite United's big-name stars. Krisztián Kenesei and Darko Ljubojevic were in fine form for Zalaegerszeg, with neither Roy Keane nor Juan Sebastián Veron able to match their work-rate or passing.
Roy Carroll, in for Fabien Barthez in the United goal, was a busy man, tipping over a long-range drive from Ottó Vincze. Van Nistelrooij was then guilty of a surprising miss as United picked up their play towards the interval, lashing the ball over from barely five metres.
The second half was equally frustrating for the visitors as the home side swarmed around the ball every time a United player picked it up. Solskjær was the brightest hope for Sir Alex Ferguson's men and he again freed Van Nistelrooij. This time the Dutchman bundled the ball into the net but the effort was ruled out for offside. David Beckham also surged through but found Ilic in his way.
Just when it looked like United would escape with a draw, a hanging cross from the right dropped over the head of England defender Phil Neville and Zalaegerszeg sensed a chance. Tamás Szamosi wasted no time and strode into the penalty area before crossing for Koplárovics to poke the ball past Carroll.
"It was very disappointing," said Ferguson afterwards. "They had one chance and one goal in the second half, we didn't take our chances."