Hungary down Scots with two late goals

Scotland U-21s 1 Hungary U-21s 2
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The Independent Football

Scotland's under-21 side got their rebuilding programme for the forthcoming European Championship qualifiers off to a disappointing start with defeat in their friendly against Hungary at Almondvale yesterday.

A Shaun Maloney penalty after 31 minutes gave Rainer Bonhof's side a narrow half-time lead over Hungary but two goals in the closing minutes handed victory to the visitors. The home side had the best of a tepid first 45 minutes, eventually getting the breakthrough when John Kennedy was fouled in the box by Vilmos Vanczak and Maloney made no mistake with his spot-kick.

The game deteriorated in the second half as both sides made continual substitutions. With four minutes to go, Scotland paid the price for their insipid second-half display when Tamas Csehi scored from close range. Then, in stoppage time, Szoltan Jovanczai scored the late winner for the visitors.

It was a poor end to a poor game for the home side in front of a paltry 1,894 fans.

The Scots had six debutants in their starting XI - the goalkeeper Graeme Smith, Paul Lawson, Robbie Foy, Mark Wilson, Simon Lappin and Brian Prunty - and there was bound to be a certain uneasiness about the early stages of the game for Bonhof's men.

But the home side's first chance came in the seventh minute when Maloney almost capitalised on the slackness of Hungary defender Istvan Rodenbucher inside the six-yard box but fortunately for the visitors the ball was cleared to safety. Two minutes later, Garry O'Connor's turn and cross from the left to Brian Prunty should have resulted in a goal but the Aberdeen player's header from eight yards out was well saved by Marton Fulop.

Moments later Maloney curled a 20-yard free-kick just past the Hungary post and in the 13th minute, the Scotland midfielder Lappin lashed a 25-yard free-kick off the crossbar with Fulop struggling to reach as the ball rebounded clear.

Scotland continued to have the best of the play, and took the lead with a penalty in the 31st minute after Kennedy was adjudged to have been fouled in the box by Vanczak.

It was something of a soft award but Maloney stepped up confidently to send the keeper the wrong way and the home side got the breakthrough.

Bonhof made five changes to his side at the interval and there was a danger that any rhythm that had been built up would be lost.

The Scots had always looked that bit sharper than the young Hungarians in the first half but after the restart the visitors were back on an even keel.

There were some rough tackles going in as both sides upped their work rate and in the 51st minute the midfielder Szabolcs Huszti was lucky to escape a booking for a reckless foul on Maloney.

In the 56th minute, Huszti eventually got the booking he looked so keen on after yet another lunge at Maloney.

But the game in general looked disjointed, especially from a Scots point of view with no real creativity or thought in their attacks. Neither keeper was seeing much action and as the second half wore on the quality of play deteriorated.

And when Ross Wallace came on for Robbie Foy in the 62nd minute, the seventh substitute for the home side, the game looked like petering out in meaninglessness.

Hungary looked intent enough on getting the equaliser, though Scotland held their ground. But the two late goals undermined the good work by Bonhof's young side.

Scotland Under-21: Smith (Marshall h-t) Lawson (Dempster h-t), Lappin (Morrison 53), Kennedy, Dowie (Diamond h-t), McCunnie, Foy (Wallace 62), Wilson (Sweeney h-t), O'Connor (Beattie h-t), Maloney (Reilly 83), Prunty.

Hungary Under-21: Fulop (Zoltan Kovacs h-t), Rodenbucher, Vasko (Belogh h-t), Vanczak, Takacs, Regedei, Ervin David (Szijarpo h-t), Huszti (Sandor 83), Varga, Jozsi (Csehi 64), Nogradi (Jovanczai 71), Belogh (Csopaki 64).

Referee: M Courtney (N Ireland).

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