International Challenge Match
Hungary 0-1 Scotland
Tuesday 27 March, kick-off 7pm
Groupama Arena, Budapest

Match report by Stuart Spencer.

Scotland: Matt Phillips (48 minutes)

A Matt Phillips second-half strike helped Scotland beat Hungary 1-0 at the Groupama Arena.  

Alex Mcleish’s second match in charge would see him line up a 3-5-2 formation. The Scotland boss made seven changes to the side that lost to Costa Rica four days ago, bringing in Stuart Armstrong, John McGinn, James Forrest, Matt Phillips, Callum McGregor; whilst handing Jack Hendry his very first international debut and Ryan Fraser earning his first full start. 

Starting team v Hungary

Scotland, wearing the new yellow away strip, began their fourth game on Hungarian soil brightly, closing down their opponents at every opportunity and playing at a high tempo.

Hungary, who lost 3-2 last Friday to Azerbaijan, were looking just as bright, particularly through Lovrencsics. The Magyars created the first chance of the game after 4 minutes. A slack pass from Robertson allowed Hungary to counter, putting through captain Dzsudzsák but his effort from outside the box was easily collected by McGregor.

Scotland would have their first chance four minutes later, good work from Phillips saw the ball ricochet off the defender to Forrest but his effort was dragged wide.  

McGregor was called into action again when skipper Dzsudzsák curled a 25-yard free-kick towards Scotland’s goal, which was well turned away for a corner.

Scotland were enjoying good possession and trying to create pressure on the Hungarian defence.

McGinn’s long-range ball was won by Forrest, who worked a chance for himself but ended it with a weak finish which was easily gathered by Gulácsi.

In the 39th minute, Ryan Fraser was bundled to the ground by Kleinheisler, giving the referee little choice but to point to the spot. Charlie Mulgrew stepped up but Gulácsi pulled off a great save from the Scotland captain- the Red Bull Leipzig keeper diving low to his left-hand side.

With one minute before half-time, McKenna played a superb ball from the left to Forrest, but again the Celtic winger’s first-time shot was collected by Gulácsi with ease.

Just before the end of the first forty-five, from a corner, a free header by Guzmics was blocked by Robertson on the line and cleared. 

Jack Hendry

The second half began with continued positivity. Three minutes in and Scotland were a goal up. A well worked goal which was started off by Phillips, who gave it to Forrest, who then linked with Fraser down the right, whose first-time cross met the late run of Phillips, slotting home in the middle of the box; sending the Tartan Army support wild.

Allan McGregor was showing why he was called back up to the Scotland squad, superbly saving a long-ranged drive from Varga on the hour mark. 

Robertson was then replaced by Barry Douglas, making his first Scotland appearance. 

With 20 minutes to go, Mulgrew was caught in possession by Szalai, who found himself one on one with McGregor who terrifically denied the Hoffenheim striker. A second attempt by Szalai moments later was fired wide across the Scotland goal.

After good work on the left side by Phillips, Douglas sent in a cross for substitute, Kenny McLean, but his header did not trouble the home side.

A flurry of late substitutions, including Paterson and McBurnie, helped ensure Scotland would see the game out as deserved 1-0 winners in Budapest giving McLeish his first win in his second tenure as Scotland manager.

What’s next

Away matches in Peru and Mexico await McLeish and his squad this coming summer. Though these past two matches against Costa Rica and Hungary will be a pleasing headache for the Scotland manager as all new additions did not disappoint.

Hungary: Gulácsi, Fiola, Otigba, Lovrencsics, Hangya, (Szabó 45), Pintér, (Elek 45), Kleinheisler (Pátkai 67), Dzsudzsák (Németh 58), Varga (Nikolics 83), Guzmics, Szalai (Böde)

Unused substitutes: Lang, Nagy, Ugrai, Dibusz, Stieber, Eppel, Bese, Kovacsik, Botka

Scotland: McGregor, Hendry, Mulgrew, McKenna, Fraser (Paterson 81), Robertson (Douglas 66), Armstrong (McLean 70), McGinn, C. McGregor (Cummings 90+2), Forrest (Christie 77), Phillips (McBurnie 83).

Unused substitutes: Archer, McLaughlin, McDonald, Murphy, Cairney.