Szalai stars in Hungary goalfest
Adam Szalai struck a hat-trick as Hungary secured their second straight win in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying with a comprehensive victory over Group E minnows San Marino at the Ferenc Puskas Stadion in Budapest this evening.
The Mainz frontman netted twice in the first half-hour, as did Gergely Rudolf, as the hosts stormed into a 4-0 lead. Szalai completed his treble three minutes into the second period and Vladimir Koman made it six on the hour. Balazs Dzsudzsak extended the advantage in the 89th minute and there was still time for Zoltan Gera to convert a penalty after Zsolt Laczko had been fouled by Carlo Valentini, who was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
The Hungarians were without suspended defensive duo Pal Lazar and Zoltan Liptak, but their absence did not cause a problem against a visiting side who were without their all-time leading scorer Andy Selva due to a calf strain.
Hungary kickstarted their campaign with a 2-1 win over Moldova last month and there was never much doubt from the early stages that Sandor Egervari's side would continue the winning trend, although Fabio Bollini's header in the opening minute needed dealing with by Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly.
The procession started in the 11th minute when Dzsudzsak surged down the left wing and crossed for Rudolf to head powerfully towards goal and then nod in the rebound after Aldo Simoncini had parried his initial effort. Hungary stretched their lead seven minutes later when Dzsudzsak's left-wing corner was glanced in off the far post by the head of Szalai.
It did not take long for the third goal to arrive. Koman's delightful defence-splitting pass set Rudolf free in the left channel and he dummied the goalkeeper before slotting in at the near post from ten yards. It was already a rout when 90 seconds later Hungary scored an opportunistic fourth, Szalai spotting Simoncini off his line and judging a 40-yard lob to perfection.
Four became five just after the break when another rampaging run by left-winger Dzsudzsak saw him slide in a low cross to give Szalai the simple task of tapping the ball past the goalkeeper to complete his hat-trick. The sixth goal was again the product of a left-wing attack but this time it was Rudolf who was released. He pulled the ball back for Koman to rifle across Simoncini and into the bottom-right corner on the hour mark.
Dzsudzsak and Gera nearly grabbed Hungary's seventh with long-range efforts before Dzsudzsak scored the goal of the night, cutting in from the left flank to hammer into the top-right corner with his right foot. There was still time for Hungary to score one more, Valentini given his marching orders after bringing down Laczko and captain Gera sending Simoncini the wrong way from the spot.