Clinical Hungary Secure Opening U17 Euro Finals Win

Wales' Iwan Morgan  during the 2023 UEFA  European Under-17 Championship Group A fixture between Hungary & Wales at the Hidegkuti Nandor Stadium, Budapest, Hungary

A clinical Hungarian performance secured three points for the hosts with a 3-0 win in the opening UEFA U17 EURO finals group match, despite Cymru dominating parts of the match.

Manager Craig Knight selected a similar side that sealed qualification against Montenegro in March, with some squad changes forced due to injuries and one match suspensions for Luey Giles and Cody Twose from the Elite Round. 

The fixture marks the first time a Cymru men’s age group side has reached a UEFA finals since 1981 and Knight’s side started positively, forcing the majority of play to take place in the Hungarian half. The pressure resulted in Cymru’s coming narrowly close to scoring in the opening twenty minutes as Joe Hatch’s glancing header narrowly missed the far post from Troy Perrett’s cross in a well worked move.

Cymru’s patient build up play continued, and another chance soon beckoned with striker Iwan Morgan hitting the near post, finding himself one on one after a through ball from Josh Beecher on the left-hand side.

Despite the momentum, it was Hungary that took the lead moments before half time through Benedek Simon as the striker muscled through the box and found the bottom corner with an outstretched shot.

Wales photo with Wales' Kit Margetson, Wales' Josh Beecher, Wales' Dylan Lawlor, Wales' Brayden Clarke, Wales' Rhys Thomas, Wales' Charlie Crew, Wales' Joe Andrews, Wales' Troy Perrett, Wales' Gabriele Biancheri, Wales' Iwan Morgan, Wales' Joe Hatch  during the 2023 UEFA  European Under-17 Championship Group A fixture between Hungary & Wales at the Hidegkuti Nandor Stadium, Budapest, Hungary

Starting the second half in the lead, the Hungarians tightened up at the back, offering little space for Cymru to infiltrate and create chances. However, Knight’s side continued to look for opportunities through Gabriele Bianchieri and half-time substitute Freddie Issaka out wide.

With fifteen minutes remaining, the hosts doubled their lead through substitute Szilard Szabo. A shot from distance by Csaba Molnar was parried away by Kit Margetson but the follow up by Szabo resulted with the ball in the back of the net.

The three points were all but secured five minutes later as defender Adam Umathum headed home from an Hungarian corner. Despite the difficult second half, Cymru continued to show resilience with Issaka forcing a close range save for Aaron Yaakobisvili in the closing stages.

Knight’s side will continue the campaign on Saturday 20 May against the Republic of Ireland at the Puskás Akadémia Pancho Aréna in Felcsut. The match kicks off at 15:30 BST and will be shown live on the BBC Sport website and iPlayer.

Cymru: 1. Kit Margetson, 14. Josh Beecher (13. Sam Parker 73’), 5. Dylan Lawlor, 6. Brayden Clarke, 2. Rhys Thomas, 4. Joe Andrews (18. Alfie Tuck 60’), 8. Charlie Crew ©, 20. Troy Perrett (16. Jacob Cook 73’), 11. Joe Hatch (19. Freddie Issaka 46’), 9. Iwan Morgan (17. Alfie Cunningham 80’), 10. Gabriele Biancheri. 

Subs not used: 12. Luke Armstrong, 15. Alyas Debono.

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