Ahead of Thursday’s Euro 2016 play-off first leg in Oslo Hungary had played Norway on just three previous occasions. Losing all three matches, conceding ten goals and scoring just once.
Hungary were 9/2 underdogs to win the match by the time it kicked-off. Not exactly insurmountable odds but it did require doing something they’d never come close on three previous occasions.
Thanks to Laszlo Kleinheisler’s first half strike and a commendable rear-guard action Hungary put one boot, if not two, on French soil for Euro 2016. The entire team paid a fitting tribute to the recently passed Martin Fulop.
No team has ever won away in the first leg of a European Championship play-off and failed to qualify. In fact no European team has won away in the first leg of a UEFA World Cup play-off and failed to qualify either.
Four teams who have won the first leg away in a European Championship play-off:
- Euro 2000 – Denmark won 5-0 in Israel, won 2nd leg at home 3-0 for 8-0 aggregate
- Euro 2000 – England won 2-0 in Scotland, lost 2nd leg at home 1-0 to qualify 2-1 on aggregate
- Euro 2012 – Ireland won 4-0 in Estonia, drew 2nd leg 1-1 to qualify 5-1 on aggregate
- Euro 2012 – Croatia won 3-0 in Turkey, drew 2nd leg at home 0-0 to qualify 3-0 on aggregate
Four teams have won the first leg of a UEFA World Cup play-off:
- World Cup 1998 – Yugoslavia won 7-1 in Turkey, won 2nd leg 5-0 at home to qualify 12-1 on aggregate.
- World Cup 2002 – Turkey won 1-0 in Austria, won 2nd leg 5-0 at home to qualify 6-0 on aggregate.
- World Cup 2006 – Czech Republic won 1-0 in Norway, won 2nd leg 1-0 at home to qualify 2-0 on aggregate.
- World Cup 2012 – France won 1-0 in Ireland, lost 2nd leg at home 1-0. Qualified 2-1 on aggregate after extra-time.
Neither side has any positive memories of play-offs. Norway have been involved in two previous all European play-offs and have lost all four legs.
Hungary have fared no better in their only previous play-off losing 12-1 on aggregate to Yugoslavia back in 1997.
However the fact remains that no team has won away in the first leg of an all-European play-off and not gone on to qualify. It should be noted that in the four European Championship ties only one side went on to win the second leg, with two drawing and one losing.
Hungary to win 1-0 at 6/1 or a 1-1 draw at 11/2 look like sensible options. Hungary only scored 11 goals in their ten group games and conceded nine. No game was won or lost by more than a goal and this game should prove no different.
Hungary haven’t qualified for a major tournament in sixteen years but at 1/3 to qualify that run looks set to end on Sunday evening.