England were less chirpy after having victory snatched from them when Alan Shearer's 21st-minute penalty was cancelled out 15 minutes from time by Janos Hrutka's free-kick, but any disappointment the players felt will have been swept away by the news that Keegan, who has made as big an impact with them as he has with the fans, will be taking the job permanently. Given the euphoria which will greet that decision it was, perhaps, a good thing that England only drew. The makeshift team had their moments in a solid but unspectacular performance, but Keegan should be aware that there is a still lot of work required to match the expectations placed on him.
The immediate task is the summer's two Euro 2000 qualifiers but, unfortunately, little was learned last night which will be relevant in June. Shearer again looked much happier playing with a partner who was prepared, unlike Michael Owen, to drop off and allow him to lead the line. David Seaman, winning his 50th cap, was outstanding, Martin Keown defended well and David Batty was steady. But we all knew this already.
Of the new faces, Kevin Phillips looked the most comfortable. Jamie Carragher also looked promising, but his foul led to the equaliser. Wes Brown was not ready for the step up while Michael Gray and Emile Heskey made brief debuts.
Steve McManaman, good in parts, was prominent in a wave of early England attacks which produced shots on target from Butt and Phillips. The Hungarians then looked dangerous themselves and Seaman did well to keep out Bela Illes.
Seven minutes later, Shearer, following up after a half-cleared McManaman break, was pulled down in the box. The England captain took the spot-kick himself to score his 23rd goal in 49 internationals. A 24th goal nearly followed but Gabor Kiraly, who had earlier denied Phillips, saved with his legs.
The Hungarians gradually came back into the game but took until the 50th minute to threaten seriously again. Then Vilmos Sebok hit a long ball towards Tibor Dombi who swivelled and hit the ball first time. Seaman was alert to the danger and saved to his right.
Shortly after the hour, Keegan introduced Carragher for Rio Ferdinand and, after 14 minutes on the pitch, the Liverpool defender was duped by Pal Dardai and brought him down. Hrutka took the kick and curled it into the top right-hand corner.
Jamie Redknapp came on and helped to calm the situation and, had Shearer been able to touch home Neville's late cross, England might have won an undeserved success. Instead the Keegan bandwagon got a touch on the brakes which he will appreciate as much as anyone.
HUNGARY (4-3-3): Kiraly (Hertha Berlin); G Korsos (Gyor), Sebok (Bristol City), Hrutka (Kaiserslautern), Matyus (Ferencvaros); Dardai (Hertha Berlin), Pisont (Eintracht Frankfurt), Halmai (MTK Budapest); Dombi (Epona Debrecen), Illes (MTK Budapest), A Korsos (Ujpest). Substitutes: Somogyi (Gyor) for Pisont, h/t; Toth (Ujpest) for A Korsos, 64; Herczeg (Ujpest) for Toth, 90.
ENGLAND (4-3-1-2): Seaman (Arsenal); Brown (Manchester Utd), Keown (Arsenal), Ferdinand (West Ham Utd), P Neville (Manchester Utd); Sherwood (Tottenham Hotspur), Batty (Newcastle Utd), Butt (Manchester Utd); McManaman (Liverpool); Phillips (Sunderland), Shearer (Newcastle Utd). Substitutes: Carragher (Liverpool) for Ferdinand, 61; Gray (Sunderland) for Brown, 73; Heskey (Leicester) for Phillips, 82; Redknapp (Liverpool) for McManaman, 85.
Referee: L Frohlich (Germany).
Paul Newman, page 26Reuse content