Botond Barath dribbling - Hungary Men's National Team - Sporting KC

Botond Barath and Hungary blank Azerbaijan in vital Euro qualifying win

Sporting Kansas City center back Botond Barath earned his ninth career cap for the Hungary Men’s National Team on Sunday, helping the Magyars to an all-important 1-0 home win over Azerbaijan at Groupama Arena in Budapest.

Playing the full 90 minutes in a pivotal UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier, Barath spearheaded a stout defensive effort that saw Hungary limit Azerbaijan to just two shots on goal. The hosts, meanwhile, racked up 23 attempts of their own and notched the all-important breakthrough when Mihaly Korhut beat Azerbaijan goalkeeper Emil Balayev in the 10th minute.

The result lifts Hungary into second place in Group E of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying, behind leaders Croatia and ahead of third-place Slovakia. The Magyars currently have a two-point cushion on the Slovaks, who have one game in hand heading into the final window of Euro 2020 qualifying in November. The top two finishers in Group E will advance to the heralded tournament next summer, slated to take place in 12 different cities across 12 different countries.

Forward Krisztian Nemeth, Barath’s club teammate at Sporting Kansas City, was an unused substitute for the Magyars on Sunday. Neither player featured in Hungary’s 3-0 loss at Croatia on Thursday.

With 12 points through seven qualifying matches, Hungary will conclude their Group E campaign on Nov. 19 against Wales at Cardiff City Stadium in the Welsh capital of Cardiff. The Magyars will aim to beat Wales and hope Slovakia drops points at Croatia (Nov. 16) or at home to Azerbaijan (Nov. 19). Such a scenario would send Hungary to their second straight UEFA Euro tournament, having appeared at the 2016 edition in France after a 44-year absence from the competition.

Barath started 22 of 24 appearances for Sporting in all competitions during his first season with the club. Nemeth started 22 of 28 appearances for Sporting this season and finished tied for the team lead with 12 goals in all competitions.