England took another, somewhat faltering, step towards 2022 World Cup qualification when they drew 1-1 with Hungary at Wembley on Tuesday as they are now three points clear at the top of Group I with two matches remaining.
The game was marred by fighting in the stands between Hungary fans and baton-wielding police just after kickoff, with riot police entering the fray as visiting supporters forced stewards and police back down a tunnel.
On the pitch, the visitors went ahead with a Roland Sallai penalty after 24 minutes after England fullback Luke Shaw caught a stooping Loci Nego in the head as he attempted a clearance.
England equalised in the 37th minute when a Phil Foden free kick was flicked on by Tyrone Mings and the ball was turned in by John Stones from close range.
“You can say it’s poor because we drew the game but we dominated. Silly penalty to give away but we got back into the game and could not get that killer touch,” said England midfielder Declan Rice.
“You have to give credit to the opposition sometimes. Hungary were much better than when we played them away.”
England were packed with attacking talent but failed to impose themselves on a team they beat 4-0 in Budapest last month and created few further chances against the battling visitors.
The result leaves England top of the group on 20 points ahead of Poland, who beat Albania (15 points) 1-0 away in another match hit by crowd trouble.
Euro 2020 runners-up England are still strong favourites to win the group via their remaining games against Albania and San Marino next month, but have left themselves work to do after a display described as disappointing by coach Gareth Southgate.
“Hungary, full credit to them. I thought they caused us a tactical problem. We weren’t fluid and I didn’t think we played at the level that we need to play,” he said.
“We’ll go away and think about the balance of the team a little bit but I think individually we can do better as well.
“We made lots of simple mistakes with the ball. I think right across the board from the start we weren’t sharp with our play, gave the ball away, we were overrunning things.
“So I just think that we were underneath it. It’s the first time for a long time but we have to hold our hands up to that.” Hungary, in fourth place on 11 points, need a miracle to have a chance of snatching second place and a playoff berth but still celebrated Tuesday’s point as if they had won the World Cup.