Hungary need more Gera goals to reach Euro 2016 last eight


Toulouse (France) (AFP) – Hungary striker Zoltan Gera scored one of the best goals of Euro 2016, but as he looks for a way to beat Belgium on Sunday he says his effort has already been outdone.

Gera’s long-range strike in the 3-3 draw with Portugal helped Hungary top Group F and kept alive a dream campaign on the country’s first appearance at a major tournament in three decades.

Ferencvaros striker Gera said any feelgood factor from his goal will disappear if Hungary are forced to pack their bags after Sunday’s battle for a quarter final place in Toulouse.

“We did see some spectacular goals in the group stages,” he said Saturday.

“I’m happy about the one I scored, but we saw today, for example, another great goal from (Switzerland striker Xherdan) Shaqiri and it was even better than mine.

“But if we lose tomorrow, the goal won’t mean anything.”

Shaqiri’s spectacular overhead kick might go down as one of the best goals of the last 16 knockout phase, but it didn’t save Switzerland from defeat to Poland on penalty kicks.

Hungary’s passage to the last 16, 30 years after failing to get past the group stages of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, has enthralled millions of watchers back home.

Their no-nonsense coach Bernd Storck said Hungary will adopt a simple strategy against a Belgium side packed with stars like Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne.

“We’re facing one of the tournament favourites, they’re number two in the world so we’re not going to focus on ball possession,” said Storck when asked how to counter Belgium’s plans to keep the ball and tire the Hungarians.

“We have to focus on our own qualities, which means being disciplined in defence and trying to be creative in attack and score any chances we create. After that, we’ll see what happens.”

The performances of a Belgium team boasting Chelsea’s Hazard and Manchester City’s De Bruyne have so far failed to impress.

But Gera said Belgium’s class is undeniable.

“It’s not just De Bruyne who’s a challenge for us. They have a lot of exceptionally talented players,” he added.

Hungary is looking for a return to the ‘Magical Magyars’ who struck fear into the hearts of leading nations in the 1950s.

Led by the legendary Ferenc Puskas, Hungary lost just one match between 1950 and 1956 — the 1954 World Cup final to West Germany.

Famously, they also beat England 6-3 in Wembley in 1953 in a game dubbed by the “Match of the Century” by Hungarians, and 7-1 in Budapest just before the World Cup the following year.

“We know the history of Hungarian football, how excellent it was and how our players wrote themselves into history,” said Gera.

“It’s not by chance that we’re playing well at this Euro. You only have to look at how many people are following us in Hungary and how are matches are celebrated.

“And hopefully we can make them even more proud of us tomorrow.”

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