However, after Kyle Lafferty had set up Niall McGinn to tap home from three yards, the duo switched roles as Lafferty bundled the ball into the net to give Northern Ireland their first away victory in four years.
Below, Sports Mole assesses whether Northern Ireland were deserving of the three points at the Groupama Arena.
On target: 5
On target: 4
Was the result fair?
If Hungary had held onto their 1-0 advantage, you would have had to say that they just about deserved to edge out a spirited Northern Ireland side. However, it was that spirit that spurred the visitors on to a surprise three points, and after how they finished the match, no-one could take any credit away from a performance that exposed a limited Hungary side who had been fancied to make a winning start to the group.
After their performances in their previous two qualifying campaigns, Hungary would have had high hopes of progression after being drawn into a group with no stand-out side. However, while it is still early days, Attila Pinter's team will need to improve in all areas of the pitch to ensure that they secure a top-three spot. Gergely Rudolf and Balazs Dzsudzsak were a constant threat in the final third of the pitch but they were met by firm resistance from a well-oiled Northern Ireland defence.
Northern Ireland's performance
O'Neill's side found plenty of criticism come their way after a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign, but they will receive nothing but praise for their exploits in Hungary. From back to front, it was a collective display full of energy, pride and creativity as they constantly troubled their opponents. Every player played their part, but extra credit deserves to go to Jamie Ward and Lafferty who worked tirelessly to stretch the Hungary defence. If they can repeat this showing in future fixtures, they can qualify for Euro 2016.
Sports Mole's man of the match
Kyle Lafferty: From the first minute, Hungary attempted to play on Lafferty's reputation of having a short fuse but he kept his composure to put in arguably his best performance for his country. While he wasn't always a threat in the penalty area, he ran himself into the ground, and still had the energy to drive into the penalty area to set up McGinn for Northern Ireland's equaliser before netting the decisive goal.
Northern Ireland may have won the match but they could have made things easier for themselves had Corry Evans not squandered an opportunity in the final minute of the first half after Ward had seen a shot saved. It wasn't a simple chance, but he only had to get his effort on target to give his side the lead.
Deniz Aytekin's display in Budapest saw him remain consistent with both teams, but at times, his decisions weren't appreciated by either side. On far too many occasions, he needlessly stopped play for a minor infringement, but both sets of players suffered as a result of this so it didn't have an effect on the game.
Hungary: Hungary will make the trip to Romania as they look to hit back from their surprise defeat.
Northern Ireland: Belfast will play host to Northern Ireland's fixture with the Faroe Islands in a game that O'Neill's side surely must win to maintain the momentum generated from today's result.