Joakim Maehle (centre) scored the crucial goal for Denmark [Photo: eurosport.com]
England’s path to the 2022 World Cup hit an unexpected stumbling block when they were held to a draw by Hungary in a qualifier Gareth Southgate called a “big disappointment”.
The game was marred by crowd violence between Hungary fans and stewards and police.
Southgate’s side are still in pole position to reach Qatar but this was a disjointed display despite England taking on the Hungarians with an attacking line-up.
The early stages at Wembley were overshadowed by ugly scenes involving Hungary fans, who jeered England’s players while holding up a banner protesting against taking the knee before clashing with police and stewards.
This also comes in as Denmark became the second team to qualify for the 2022 World Cup finals when they beat Austria by a single goal on Tuesday as England were frustrated by Hungary at Wembley.
Joakim Maehle scored in the 53rd minute to send the Danes to Qatar as they build on their surprise run at Euro 2020 this summer when they reached the semi-finals.
“You can only dream about things like this,” said Denmark midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. “It’s crazy. This is huge for me, it’s huge for the team, for Danish football and for Denmark. With the age and quality we have, we will only keep growing.”
The Danes join Germany, who qualified on Monday, in the finals. Host nation Qatar qualify automatically.
England were level before half-time, John Stones turning in at the far post after Tyrone Mings and Declan Rice touched on Phil Foden’s free-kick.
Hungary then survived in relative comfort, Harry Kane’s struggles for form summed up when England’s captain was substituted even though they were searching desperately for a winner.
“I don’t think we played at the level we have done and Hungary defended very well. We didn’t do enough to win the game,” Southgate said,
“I don’t know if subconsciously we thought this was going to be an easier game because we beat them comfortably [4-0] in September but they’ve been very good defensively right through the summer.”
“In the first few minutes we were taking heavy touches and colliding into tackles. We didn’t show the composure and quality that we have done generally.”
England defender Tyrone Mings called for harsher punishments for racism in football after it emerged the trouble at Wembley had flared after police had moved in to arrest a Hungarian supporter for what police called a “racially aggravated public order offence”.
Mings said: “Every time we speak on racial abuse the punishments that follow never seem in line with what has happened.”
“I sincerely hope that if that is the case, the punishments fall in line with what happened this time.”
England will be sure of reaching next year’s finals if they take four points from their final qualifiers against Albania and San Marino in November.