England got their World Cup qualifying campaign back up and running in fine style as Gareth Southgate's side scored four second-half goals to secure a 4-0 victory against Hungary.
Just 53 days after their heartbreaking penalty-shootout loss to Italy at Wembley, England side restarted their World Cup qualification campaign in Budapest, and they had to contend with a hostile home crowd at the Puskas Arena.
Widespread booing was heard around the stadium as the England players took a knee before kick-off, but Southgate's side managed to quieten the home supporters as they controlled the opening 45 minutes despite not having a shot on target.
- England players targeted with racist abuse in Hungary
- England players booed as they take a knee in Hungary
- How the teams lined up | Match stats
The goals eventually came in the second half as Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Declan Rice found the net to seal a comfortable victory, to continue England's momentum from the summer.
Racist chanting aimed at Sterling, and substitute Jude Bellingham as he warmed up, provided an unsavoury end to the game, but England can look back at a job well done with victory continuing their perfect start to qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. They now have four victories from their opening four matches and a five-point lead to second placed Poland in Group I.
Meanwhile, Hungary, who took points off both France and Germany at Euro 2020 in the summer, suffered their first defeat of the campaign as they dropped to third in the table on goal difference.
England player ratings: Sterling shines again
England's Euro 2020 star Raheem Sterling shone again in hostile Hungary. Here's how he and his team-mates performed...
World Cup European Qualifying: The Group I standings...
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying - Group I
|Team||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Goals for||Goals against||Goal difference||Points|
|6) San Marino||4||0||0||4||0||12||-12||0|
England run riot in second half to dispatch Hungary...
A partisan 60,000 strong crowd greeted the sides into the Puskas Arena, and when the England players took a knee in a stand against racism and discrimination, they were greeted with a chorus of boos from the home supporters.
Hungary’s history of crowd issues…
Hungary have been ordered to play their next three UEFA competition matches behind closed doors - with one of those games suspended for two years - following racist abuse from supporters and homophobic banners in the stands during their Euro 2020 group stage matches in Budapest.
A homophobic banner was seen in the stands during Hungary's defeat to Portugal in their opening game at the tournament, while monkey chants were also heard during their draw with France. But a full-capacity crowd of more than 60,000 was present at the Puskas Arena for Thursday's match against England as the game is being played under FIFA jurisdiction
It was a hostile away atmosphere - something England had not experienced since before the pandemic - but the visitors started on the front foot with Mason Mount firing wide from distance before Maguire headed over from a Luke Shaw corner.
A threatening Kane cross took a wicked deflection off Mount and headed towards goal before Akos Kecskes hooked clear as England did a good job of silencing the crowd..
The England captain then struck an effort over the crossbar as Southgate's side continued to dominate the ball and threaten the opening goal in the opening 20 minutes of the game.
However, Hungary were set up to try and hit England on the counter-attack, and they almost capitalised as Rice was caught in possession with Shaw was pulled out of position, but Bendegúz Bolla's cross was just out of the reach of Roland Sallai.
Dominik Szoboszlai then failed to make Jordan Pickford work with a well-placed free-kick as the first half ended goalless with neither side mustering a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.
Hungary: Gulacsi (4), Kecskes (6), Orban (5), A Szalai (6), Bolla (5), Schafer (6), Kleinheisler (6), Fiola (6), Szoboszlai (5), A Szalai (6), Sallai (5).
Subs: Salloi (5), Varga (5), Gazdag (n/a).
England: Pickford (6), Shaw (7), Maguire (7), Stones (6), Walker (6), Phillips (7), Rice (8), Mount (7), Grealish (8), Sterling (8), Kane (6).
Subs: Lingard (n/a), Saka (n/a), Henderson (n/a).
Man of the match: Raheem Sterling
That quickly changed early in the second half as Kyle Walker's pass released Kane in behind the Hungary defence, but an uncharacteristically scuffed finish was kept out by goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
However, it wasn't long before a more urgent England made the breakthrough.
Rice, who had been booked moments earlier, produced a perfectly timed tackle to win the ball before Grealish released the overlapping Mount. The Chelsea forward produced a low cross for Sterling, who made no mistake from 10 yards before being showered with plastic cups by the home fans as he celebrated his 16th goal in his last 24 appearances for his country.
England team news: Grealish handed start
Jack Grealish came in as Gareth Southgate made one change to the England side that lost the Euro 2020 final as they resumed action in Hungary.
Grealish has since made a £100m move from Aston Villa to Manchester City since the Euros and started at the Puskas Arena.
Kieran Trippier was the only player to drop out from the final line-up as Southgate reverted to a four-man defence for the Group I encounter.
Jadon Sancho was not named among the substitutes having picked up what the England boss called a "small knock", while defender John Stones won his 50th cap.
England doubled their lead eight minutes later as Sterling turned provider. Mount's flick released Sterling, who crossed for Kane, who could have had a hat-trick in the second half, to head home to give the visitors breathing space.
The game was made safe when Maguire powered a header past Gulacsi to secure a comfortable victory, but reports of racism aimed at Sterling and Bellingham began to filter through.
It did not deter England, who made it four three minutes from time as Grealish teed up Rice, whose low strike burst through Gulacsi's grasp to wrap up an excellent night's work for Southgate and his side.
Monkey chants aimed at England players
Sky Sports’ Rob Dorsett in the Puskas Arena:
“I have heard sporadic monkey chants from various areas of the crowd, directed primarily towards Raheem Sterling when he has touched the ball – and including when he set up Harry Kane for the second goal.
“I have seen four separate individuals specifically involved in the racist chanting. The most recent of those was directed at Jude Bellingham, as he warmed up right in front of us, and close to the Hungarian ultras.
“They have been sporadic pockets of racist abuse we have seen, but they are nonetheless clear.”
Keane: England got their attitude right
Sky Sports' Roy Keane to ITV:
"I have to give the credit to England.
"The way Hungary play, when the game is tight their energy levels are up etc, but as soon as the first goal went in they didn't have a plan B.
"Credit to England for that. England made it look so easy because they did everything right. They had a great attitude, they did the basics well, they sped things up and they ran in behind.
"We've seen other teams like Portugal get out of jail on Wednesday night, Italy have drawn, and Spain have been beaten so it's very early in the season.
"It's a chance for these teams and if you turn up with the wrong attitude you are in trouble. But England didn't, so credit to them for that."
What Gareth Southgate said...
England boss Gareth Southgate: "I was very pleased with the first half, we were in total control of the game, controlled possession and were playing the right types of passes, just not connecting in that final third. We had so much of the ball we knew they would tire, we had great chances to score more goals.
"The first couple of goals came from turnovers and quick counter-attacks, we used the ball well all night. There is not much between the two halves, they were open and the goals came. We have made a very difficult game look quite comfortable.
"It was definitely an incredible atmosphere and in a football sense the players kept the crowd quiet. I have heard reports of racism and we were not aware of that during the game. I am not sure we were particularly sensible celebrating right in front of their fans with the flare but the racism is the key part. We try to take a right stand, we knew taking the knee would get an adverse reaction and anything of that nature is unacceptable."
Man of the match - Raheem Sterling
England's star man in the summer underlined his importance to the team once again, scoring the breakthrough goal with a trademark finish and setting up Kane for England's second.
A target for the hostile Hungarian fans but continued to demand the ball, and he could have had a second when he broke through after seeing a couple of penalty shouts turned down.
Opta stats: England's impressive World Cup qualifying record continues...
- England are unbeaten in their last 25 World Cup qualifying matches (W19 D6), scoring 65 goals and conceding only eight since losing 1-0 to Ukraine in October 2009.
- Hungary suffered their heaviest ever home defeat in a World Cup qualifier, in what was their 118th such match.
- Harry Kane has scored in each of his last 13 appearances in qualifying matches for the European Championships/World Cup, scoring 17 goals. In 22 qualifiers, Kane has scored 23 goals and assisted eight more. In England's history, only Gary Lineker under Sir Bobby Robson (35 goals in 58 appearances) has ever netted more goals under a single manager than Kane has under Gareth Southgate (34 goals in 45 appearances).
- England have won all 14 matches in which Raheem Sterling has found the net, the best 100%-win ratio in matches scored in England's entire history.
- Luke Shaw has been directly involved in eight goals in his last 11 England starts (1 goal, 7 assists), with his five assists in 2021 the joint-most of any European player in all competitions this calendar year.
England are back in action on Sunday when they face Andorra in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley; kick-off 5pm. Meanwhile, Hungary are also in World Cup qualifying action on Sunday when they travel to Albania, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 5pm.