Reuters Bordeaux, France
Jun 15, 2016, 05.58 AM
Two of the noisiest sets of supporters at Euro 2016 witnessed the first surprise result of the finals on Tuesday when Austria lost 2-0 to old rivals Hungary in the opening match of Group F.
The Austrians had been unimpressive in some friendly matches since reeling off nine successive victories to win their qualifying section but they were still strong favourites.
Hungary were therefore all the more delighted to achieve unexpected success in the 138th meeting between the countries with goals by Adam Szalai and substitute Zoltan Stieber.
They appear to have surprised even themselves, since coach Bernd Storck had said victory would be "a miracle".
Perhaps he realised it was a day for the unexpected when centre forward Szalai scored.
That had not happened for the national team since October 2014, against the might of the Faroe Islands. Nor had the former Real Madrid reserve player been exactly prolific at his various German clubs.
Szalai showed more than one touch of class, however, in the 62nd minute, chesting down for man of the match Laszlo Kleinheisler, then sliding the return pass past the previously untroubled goalkeeper Robert Almer.
That was the first of two incidents in as many minutes that turned the game.
Austria retaliated almost immediately as Martin Hinteregger's shot beat keeper Gabor Kiraly but the referee ruled it out for a late tackle by their centre back Aleksandar Dragovic, who received his second yellow card and was sent off.
Kiraly, the first 40-year-old to play in the European Championship, made an excellent save from Zlatko Junuzovic 10 minutes before halftime.
His evening got better and better after almost suffering the worst possible start, when David Alaba's shot in the first minute flew past him but hit the post.
Austria were the better side in the first half, but Alaba's influence in midfield slowly waned, causing coach Marcel Koller to wonder whether the Bayern Munich man might be better reverting to his club position in the back four.
Koller has much else to ponder before the meeting with short-odds group favourites Portugal in Paris on Saturday, including an injury to the influential number 10 Junuzovic and Dragovic's suspension.
The full back's ban is expected to bring an opportunity for Gyorgy Garics, who decided to stay with the squad after his father died of cancer last week.
Meanwhile, the Hungarians, having qualified for the first time since reaching the 1972 semi-final, will be newly confident of claiming a place in the last-16 when they play Iceland earlier on Saturday.
They have made the most of their preparation, unlike Austria, who may have been lured into complacency after their stunning qualification campaign.
"We got our reward for three weeks of hard work. Our recent friendlies helped. What we did in the second half was brilliant. Congratulations to the whole team," Storck said.