Fehervar Breathe New Life into NBI Title Race

Shock troops. Photo: Fradi.Hu.

A week, as the saying goes, is a long time in football, and a lot can change in the space of a week.  As the final whistle blew at the Groupama to signal the end of match day 21, Oleksander Zubkov’s solitary strike against closest challengers MOL Fehervar had seen Ferencvaros open up a comfortable 6 point advantage at the top of the NBI table.  With two games in hand over Fehervar – against Debrecen and the out-of-sorts Ujpest – Fradi had taken a seemingly massive step towards a second successive title.

Fast forward one week and the boys from the capital were left shell shocked by a blistering first-half performance by the season’s surprise package Mezokovesd Zsory, as the hosts roared into a well deserved three-nil lead. 

Time and again, Mezokovesd’s neat and intricate passing – which has been an exciting feature of their play this season – opened up their more illustrious opponents, and the half-time lead did not flatter the hosts. 

No doubt riled by some harsh words from coach Rebrov at the interval, Ferencvaros tried in vain to muster a response in the second 45 but found no way through the home defence, resulting in only their second league defeat of the season so far.

Earlier on in the afternoon, an Ivan Petryak inspired MOL Fehervar brushed aside an insipid Zalaegerszeg, cruising to a 4-1 win.  The result brought Fehervar to within 3 points of Fradi –albeit Fradi still having their two games in hand – who, of course, would falter at Mezokovesd in the evening kick-off.

Ujpest, who have struggled for form since the turn of the year, won their first match of 2020 with following a 1-0 success away to bottom club Kaposvar.  In true Lilak style, the visitors made hard work of what should have been a straightforward three points and were more relieved than satisfied to hear the final whistle at the Rakoczi Stadion.

Honved and Puskas played out an evenly contested 1-1 draw in a tale of two penalties at the Hidegkuti Nandor Stadion as neither club wanted to give up any ground in their respective chasing down of Mezokovesd in the battle for third place.  Davide Lanzafame’s opener was cancelled out with just two minutes remaining as Knezevic levelled from the spot, ensuring that Puskas maintain their two point advantage over Honved.

Kisvarda won a valuable point in their fight against the drop thanks to a 2-2 draw with DVTK, however, they were left to rue their defensive frailties, conceding twice in the final quarter of an hour to blow their chances of a priceless victory.

Another club looking to steer their way clear of the drop zone was Paks who took a sizeable step forward in achieving that goal thanks to a 4-2 win at home to Debrecen.  The win now leaves Paks 5 points above the relegation zone and just a single point behind their opponents Debrecen in 8th place.

Match day 23 will see Budapest host three Saturday fixtures: Honved vs. DVTK at the Hidegkuti Nandor Stadion and Ujpest vs. Puskas Akademia, both with 5pm kick-offs.  Ferencvaros vs. Debrecen at the Groupama follows with a 7.30pm kick-off.

Interestingly, MOL Fehervar have the chance to go level on points with Fradi should they defeat basement boys Kaposvar in another of the days 5pm kick-offs.

Perhaps the fat lady of Hungarian football hasn’t quite sung the song of the NBI title race just yet.

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