This ended up being a disastrous night for Wales in Budapest. A second defeat in four days leaves Ryan Giggs with very little margin for error for the rest of a campaign that is badly faltering.
As in Croatia, Wales had chances. But once more they were missed, the biggest by Gareth Bale, and at the other end a soft underbelly was exposed.
Hungary won through a goal 10 minutes from time that showed further frayed Welsh defending. James Lawrence will continue to be under scrutiny after being muscled to the ground alongside Ben Davies by striker Adam Szalai so that the ball ran free for Mate Patkai to sweep in.
Lawrence was later fortunate to escape a red card for hauling down Laszlo Kleinheisler as he ran clear.
Wales could not mount a response and that only increased the angst around Bale’s display. The effects of falling the sidelines at Real Madrid appeared to seep into Bale’s approach, because when the big chance came there was little sign of his usual conviction.
It was the hour mark when David Brooks danced into space and fed a superb pass to Tom Lawrence, who broke the offside trap and spotted Bale in space. His cross was well-placed but Bale wavered and went with his right, miskicking and scooping the ball into goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi’s hands.
Those two moments place Wales firmly behind in Group E, fourth in the table and without momentum. Giggs accepted his team are now walking a tightrope to qualify for Euro 2020. ‘We have to win nearly all our games,’ he said.
‘We have given away soft goals in both games. You can’t do that as this level. We pride ourselves on our defending as a team, making sure that first of all we are hard to beat – that was the bedrock of the success over the last three or four years.’
Giggs had made five changes to the side that fell to defeat in Croatia, bringing in Ashley Williams, Ethan Ampadu, Chris Gunter, Lawrence and Brooks but this was the same feeling as from Saturday: a sense of a missed opportunity, because Wales did play well in patches.
Their best chance in the first half came when Daniel James opened up those rapid legs of his. He gained possession on halfway and drove at Hungary’s defence, gliding past one opponent before cutting inside another and ending his 50-yard burst by slipping the ball to Lawrence in the box. Lawrence shifted into space and shot but it was too close to Gulacsi.
Williams largely had the beating of Szalai, with Hungary’s only chances coming from crossing positions. Their other major chance came when Bale’s header from a Hungary corner went straight up and was hooked towards goal, with Joe Allen needing to clear off the line dramatically.
Wales had plenty of good openings and there was a period in the second half when it looked like their front four could carve Hungary open at will. But they could not score and that means Giggs has work to do.