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Hungary close door on Irish dream

Hungary 2-1 Republic of Ireland
First-half strikes from Markó Futács and István Kovács earned the hosts a morale-boosting second victory in qualifying Group 7.

Markó Futács shows his delight after finding the net
Markó Futács shows his delight after finding the net ©Gábor Baricsa

Hungary drew a line under the Republic of Ireland's lingering UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying ambitions with a Group 7 victory courtesy of first-half goals from Markó Futács and István Kovács.

The visitors' faint hopes of finishing second rested on them attaining maximum points from their two remaining games away to Hungary and Italy. Hungary were in no mood to do them any favours, however, and took control through those Futács and Kovács goals. Robbie Brady reduced the arrears five minutes before the break but the game was up for Noel King's men.

The match was just eight minutes old when Ádám Bódi's speculative effort clipped the crossbar, while Rhys Murphy went close for Ireland with a header at the other end. The home side then took the lead with a quarter of an hour gone, Futács finding the net with a crisp right-footed finish. The goalscorer turned provider on 28 minutes, crossing for the onrushing Kovács to make it two.

The action switched ends at dizzying pace and Ireland were handed a lifeline through Brady's coolly converted penalty. Aidan White also threatened before Futács failed where Brady had succeeded as Ian McLoughlin denied him from the spot on the stoke of half-time. Despite the visitors' best efforts, Hungary came closest to scoring again in the second half as Bódi fired narrowly over from close range and Futács' venomous strike was tipped round a post by McLoughlin.

With this victory, Antal Róth's fourth-placed Hungary moved within a point of the Republic of Ireland. They know now that victory in their last fixture against Liechtenstein on Monday will lift them into third if the Irish fail to win in Italy.