After a fantastic Champions League qualification victory over Slovan Bratislava, our defending champions were looking forward to their first league game on Sunday evening. In the opening round of the OTP Bank League 2022/23 season, last year's bronze medalists Puskás Akadéma were Fradi's opponents in the Groupama Arena.
Head coach Stanislav Cherchesov made more changes to the starting line-up than usual, as the team will play away against Qarabag of Azerbaijan in the 3rd round of the Champions League qualifiers next week. Our coach has thus played his team with the line-up of Dibusz - Knoester, Thelander, Kovacevic - Auzqui, Laidouni, Vécsei, Loncar, Pászka - Mercier, Bassey. The interesting thing about the three-man defense line-up was that there was no classic winger on either side, but we had several defensive players in midfield.
Before the match, our club's president Gábor Kubatov congratulated FTC captain Dénes Dibusz, who was voted Fradi Footballer of the Year by our fans on fradi.hu. Our Hungarian national team goalkeeper won the bronze statue in the shape of a football, offered by Tibor Mladoniczky, for the second time after 2020. Previously, Zoltán Gera had also won the award twice, while Blazic, Böde and Uzuni had each won the award once.
We started with more momentum, and Mercier's shot in the 3rd minute was a sign of that, narrowly missing the top left corner. After a busy first few minutes, the game was more of a field game. In the 15th minute, Favorov fired a free-kick well over from a promising position, the first big chance for Felcsút. From the 20th minute we took control. First, after a nice pass from the right, Pászka received the ball in the middle but couldn't shoot, then after Vécsei's clearance and Bassey's pass, Loncar shot over.
Puskas occasionally got in front of the home goal, mostly trying to score from our lost balls. On one of them, Dibusz easily saved Kiss' shot, but the trio of Knoester, Thelander, Kovacevic also held their own, but the midfielders also helped in defence.
There were no more big chances in the closing stages of the first half and the teams went into the break with a goalless draw.
The second half started with one big chance in front of each goal. First Pászka shot into the side netting from 12 meters after a nice deep pass, then Zahedi's 20-meter left-footed attempt was blocked by Dibusz. In the 56th minute, after a Pászka-Vécsei passing, the latter crossed from the left and Auzqui headed wide of the goal.
Cherchesov made a triple substitution and we changed formation as Botka, Tokmac and Traoré arrived and we continued to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
In the 59th minute, Puskás Akadémia missed the biggest chance of the game after a rebound bounced to Mezghrani, who failed to find the empty net from two metres. Substitute Skribek Alen threatened twice, but Dibusz saved once, while his second shot missed the bottom right corner.
Unfortunately, we were weaker in attack, but Puskás improved. In the 76th minute Esiti drifted Favorov inside the penalty area and the referee awarded a penalty.
The penalty was taken by the victim, but his shot into the middle of the box was struck on the crossbar by Dibusz!
We had more possession in the second half, and Thelander, in his first game in charge, even had a header reaching the crossbar, but the long-awaited goal looked to be on the cards. Then in the 95th minute, substitute Zachariassen headed the ball perfectly into the goal after a great cross from Pászka, and we started the new season with a 1-0 win after an amazing finish. Our team will play next Wednesday when they take on Qarabag away from home in the 3rd round of the Champions League qualifiers at 18:00 Hungarian time.
NB I, ROUND 1
FTC-Puskás Akadémia 1-0 (0-0)
FTC: Dibusz - Knoester, Thelander, Kovacevic (Botka, 57) - Auzqui (Zachariassen, 70), Laidouni (Esiti, 46), Vécsei, Loncar (Traoré, 57), Pászka - Mercier (Tokmac, 57), Bassey.
Head coach: Stanislav Cherchesov
Puskás Akadémia: Tóth B. - Mezghrani, Stronati, Spandler - Kiss T., van Nieff, Posztobányi, Corbu, Favorov (Baluta, 90.) - Komáromi, Zahedi (Skribek, 62.).
Head coach: Zsolt Hornyák
Goalscorer: Zachariassen (95.)
Yellow cards: T. Kiss (40.), van Nieff (83.), Stronati (90.)
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