Wolverhampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England are staring relegation from the top tier of the Nations League in the face after a 4-0 thrashing by Hungary on Tuesday inflicted the Three Lions’ heaviest home defeat since 1928.
Hungary secured their first win over England for 60 years in Budapest 10 days ago and followed that up with their first win on English soil since a famous 6-3 win at Wembley in 1953.
A double from Roland Sallai and late goals from Adam Nagy and Daniel Gazdag kept Hungary on course to reach the Nations League finals next year.
Marco Rossi’s men are not headed to the World Cup in Qatar, but lead Germany by a point, with European champions Italy two points behind the group leaders with two games to go.
England are three points adrift at the bottom of the section and need a revival in September away to Italy and home to Germany to avoid relegation.
However, of greater concern for Gareth Southgate will be his side’s form just five months away from the World Cup.
Southgate was the target for much of the scorn of the home crowd in Wolverhampton despite his record of leading England to a first major tournament final for 55 years at Euro 2020 and the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
The England boss bemoaned a reliance on Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling for goals before the match and once again England were toothless.
The only goal Southgate’s men have scored in four Nations League matches this month was Kane’s late penalty in a 1-1 draw in Germany a week ago.
The return of a crowd at Molineux after Saturday’s goalless draw with Italy was played behind closed doors did little to spark England into life.
Fatigue at the end of a long season that began just weeks after losing the Euro 2020 final to Italy has been blamed for England’s lacklustre form.
However, there are major defensive issues for Southgate to address before the World Cup.
John Stones rounded off a miserable evening when he was harshly sent off for a second yellow card eight minutes from time.
The Manchester City centre-back was also at fault for the opening goal as he turned a free-kick into Sallai’s path, whose shot had too much power for Aaron Ramsdale.
Sallai produced another deadly finish to double Hungary’s lead 20 minutes from time when he latched onto Martin Adam’s inch-perfect pass to fire in between Ramsdale’s legs.
Kane saw a looping header come back off the bar as England briefly stirred.
But they were cut open at ease on the counter-attack in the closing stages as Hungary secured a memorable win.
Nagy drilled home a powerful shot from the edge of the area.
Stones was then given his marching orders before Gazdag broke clear to rub salt in England’s wounds.
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