Vasas’s victory over Szeged before the international break was much-needed, if not convincing. On Sunday they had a chance to consolidate this against basement-dwellers Debrecen (not that Debrecen, the other, less successful one – DEAC).
But before that it was time for a race or two. Since lockdown my mate Dom and I have taken up running. Having never run anything beyond a 5K before (good old Middlesbrough Parkrun), I was keen to see how I’d handle something a bit more onerous. A few weeks back I managed my first 10K race, and on Sunday the NATO Run seemed too good to pass up.
I’ve always been motivated by internal competition (these apps are a godsend with all their stats and points), so the challenge of beating my previous best of 47 minutes loomed large. The route took us through the centre of the city and along the Danube – the beautiful views almost being enough to make you forget the nausea and pain I was enduring. Although my GPS cut out under the Castle Hill tunnel, I managed to clock my best time of about 45 minutes (results pending).
Typically the Hungarian post-race pack includes a beer.
Next week is my first half-marathon so if there are no more blogs after this you’ll know why…
Then it was back to the good old Rudolf Illovszky Stadium to see our heroes in action. The team seems decimated by injuries and poor form at the moment. No Balajti or Feczesin upfront, still no sign of newcomer Otigba at the back, captain Szatmari on the bench (alongside the seemingily unfancied youngsters Kovacs and Murka) – there’s a thinness about an already troubled team recently. We settle down with our dry breadcrumbed chicken sandwiches (Hungary – we need to have a talk about sauce. Perhaps get these into your diet?) and cans of Soproni in the nippy Budapest early winter air. The portents do not seem favourable.
But all our pre-match pessimism is quickly swept aside by a rare decent performance. After just 9 minutes, last season’s NBi top scorer Radó is bundled over in the box before getting up to comfortably beat DEAC keeper Belenyesi to make it 1-0, even the announcer seems surprised by the earliness of the goal – Vasas are not typically strong starters.
Vasas are comfortable if not ambitious for the rest of the half, until on 29 minutes another incisive Radó run into the box ends in a clumsy challenge and penalty number two is signalled and duly dispatched for 2-0. Although not quite at the level of Adam Balajti‘s “give ’em the eyes” slow-motion penalties, Radó has a confidence about him which has seen him score 4 in the last 2 games. He might be set for penalties from here on in.
Half Time: Vasas 2-0 DEAC
The very first time I saw Kristóf Hinora play – about 3 years ago – he scored an absolute belter from 40 yards. I’ve been telling people he’s got it in him ever since. Today he proved me right. Just two minutes into the second half a knock-down from Vernes is taken deftly on the knee by the youngster and sits up perfectly for one of those dipping, swerving shots that midfielders dream about. It’s 3-0 and the home team are coasting.
Vernes himself gets on the scoresheet a few minutes later. A hopeless backpass gifts the ball to the classy-looking Máté Pátkai, who then rolls it across for his teammate to slot home. Vernes is impressing of late in the absence of the big hitters.
Someone who can’t get the ball in the net to save his life right now is Botond Birtalan. One of Vasas’s most reliable players hasn’t got his confidence back since his injury. Late in the game he agonisingly rolls the ball against the post today with the crowd willing it into the net. You get the feeling he just needs one to deflect in off his arse or something to get him going. A great player in poor form. He’ll get there before long.
DEAC get one back late on, but this is Vasas’s day. Finally a win and a perfomance to celebrate.
Vasas 4 – 1 DEAC (Radó 2, Hinora, Vernes)