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Hungary finish on a flourish

Israel 1-2 Hungary
First-half goals from Zsolt Kalmár and Norbert Balogh gave the hosts a win that secured third place in Group A at their opponents' expense.

Hungary celebrate at the final whistle
Hungary celebrate at the final whistle ©Tibor Illyes

Hungary claimed third position in UEFA European Under-19 Championship Group A, and a place in next year's FIFA U-20 World Cup, with a decisive win against Israel in Budapest.

Kalmár (25) and Balogh (39) score crucial goals
Hugy (36) briefly levels for Israel
Hosts finish third in Group A, Israel bottom

It was a much-improved performance from Hungary after their first two games ended in defeat and their attacking intent was evident early on. Bence Mervó latched on to Donát Zsótér's chip but Israel goalkeeper Dean Gal blocked well.

There was a response from Israel as Sagiv Jehezkel tricked his way into the Hungary penalty area and fashioned a clear sight of goal but goalkeeper György Székely kept the scores level with a fine save. In the 25th minute Hungary were ahead for the first time in the tournament when captain Zsolt Kalmár surged forward, cut back towards goal from the right and fired past Gal from 20 metres.

Back came Israel and they equalised when Dor Hugy headed in Mohammed Abu El Hija's right-wing cross, though Hungary regained their lead almost immediately. Szabolcs Varga crossed for Norbert Balogh, who arrived at the near post to head into the corner from six metres.

The second-half tempo slowed but Varga went close from a free-kick while Michael Ohana was always a threat at the other end. Both teams had opportunities as the game became stretched but it was the hosts who held on to win and earn third place in the group.

Géza Mészöly, Hungary coach
This is what I said to the players after the first two games; why weren't we more aggressive, why didn't you struggle until the last second? After those matches I made serious criticisms publicly and even more so in the dressing room, but now, thank God, I can congratulate them and say they became men. I am very proud that the team did this well under so much pressure. There were many valuable lessons for us and we trust that we will be able to use them as we look to prepare for next year's World Cup.  

Eli Ohana, Israel coach
The better team didn't win today. The difference was they scored when they had the chances – and they didn't have that many – while we created four, five or six chances in the second half but their goalkeeper was in excellent form. We did everything but score but in football you need a bit of luck; on its own it is not enough, but when you play well and create chances you need the little bit of luck which we missed today. That's why we lost the match.