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23 Jun, 2021 22:18

Hungary leader Orban dodges Euro 2020 as fans cover stadium in LGBTQ rainbow flags before Cristiano Ronaldo equals record (VIDEO)

Hungary leader Orban dodges Euro 2020 as fans cover stadium in LGBTQ rainbow flags before Cristiano Ronaldo equals record (VIDEO)

Germany's Allianz Arena was filled with rainbow flags as Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban stayed away from Euro 2020, invoking politics on a night when Cristiano Ronaldo equaled the record for individual international goals.

Fans adorned themselves in the rainbow colors that are a symbol of the LGBTQ community before Hungary's group stage decider in Germany, creating an extraordinarily eye-catching start to a night that ended with the home players tearfully applauding their fans on the pitch after narrowly missing out on qualification for the second stage of the finals.

Orban decided not to attend the match, where a man brandishing one of the kaleidoscopic flags ran onto the pitch while the teams were awaiting the national anthems, just hours before he was due to travel to Budapest.

The head of state's move came shortly after tournament organizers Uefa denied Munich city council's request to light the stadium – home to Champions League giants Bayern Munich – in rainbow colors in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, causing outrage among many with their refusal.

Uefa defended its decision in a statement, compounding its predicament by claiming that the request had been the kind of political ploy that the organization fundamentally attempts to avoid.

RT

Orban's government recently passed legislation banning gay people from featuring in school educational materials or TV shows for under-18s. Germany's captain, Manuel Neuer, wore a rainbow armband in a previous match in an act that was not condemned by Uefa.

The intense drama continued once the evening's double-bill of concluding matches in Group F began.

RT

On several occasions, the places in the pack containing European heavyweights France, Portugal and Germany, alongside dark horses Hungary, changed places – holding weighty ramifications for qualification and the team each of the top three would face in the next round.

Hungary so nearly knocked Portugal out of Euro 2016 long before the team captained by Cristiano Ronaldo went on to lift the trophy, and they were ahead against Germany – a result that would have ousted the three-time winners – for almost an hour after Adam Szalai's 11th-minute opener drew elimination for Die Mannschaft periously close.

RT

Chelsea's Kai Havertz equalized after 66 minutes, only for Andras Schafer to restore resilient Hungary's lead within two minutes.

With just six minutes remaining, Leon Goretzka leveled, taking Germany from the brink of an early departure to a classic showdown with old enemies England on Tuesday, inspiring evocative memories of the many colossal collisions between the countries at major tournaments.

RT

Not to be outdone, Cristiano Ronaldo scored penalties either side of the break in Budapest, finally bringing him level with the record he has sought for so long: Iran legend Ali Daei's mammoth total of 109 international goals that is the most ever scored by any player.

In between, another gripping Euro subplot – Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who has returned to the France squad after a long absence – scored twice in under five minutes, ensuring that his team finished top of the table and as the only team of the four not to taste defeat with a 2-2 draw.

World Cup holders France will be heavy favorites to beat Switzerland in Bucharest on Monday, a day after Portugal take on Belgium, the top-ranked side in the world, in a titanic clash in Seville.

Benzema and Ronaldo embraced and shared their thoughts with each other at half-time and the end, but Benzema was named man of the match after truly announcing his return to the international stage.

"I never doubted myself but I knew there were expectations of me from the country," he told TF1. "I managed to score and I’m going to savour it with everybody."

France and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba said: "We're satisfied and the most important thing was to top the group.

"We managed that in a group that wasn't easy. We know we need to improve."

Also on rt.com Exit Poles: Lewandowski tears as Poland endure agonizing Euro 2020 exit to Sweden, Spain smash Slovakia, Ukraine advance (VIDEO)
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