One of the great idiosyncrasies of European Championship qualification is how it pits lovable underdog nations – with populations smaller than most London boroughs – up against superstar-packed footballing behemoths. An equation that normally means one thing…goals.
Over the years, hammerings by a five or six-goal margin have become pretty commonplace in the qualification. Indeed, those kinds of one-sided affairs seem rather tame in comparison to some of the truly emphatic results….
Here are the ten biggest wins in Euro qualification history.
Belgium sealed their place at Euro 2020 in emphatic fashion as they stormed to a huge 9-0 win over San Marino. A word of advice – you might want to remember that name.
It took them 28 minutes to make their breakthrough, but once they did, they simply didn’t slow down. Roberto Martinez’s side were 6-0 up at half-time after the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Youri Tielemans and Toby Alderweireld had got themselves on the score sheet.
They took their foot off the gas pedal after the break, but they did still net three more to become the first team to qualify for the competition.
Losing 9-0 isn’t exactly a rare occurrence for San Marino. Actually, losing 9-0 in 2019 isn’t exactly a rare occurrence for them. You only have to look back to June to find another such defeat, but this time it was at the hands of Russia.
The visitors sat deep but their resistance was broken after 25 minutes after an unfortunate own goal, and Russia added three more before the break, the highlight of which was Fedor Kudryashov’s sublime team goal.
San Marino managed to get through 27 minutes of the second half before conceding again, and Russia went on to fire five more goals before the referee finally put the minnows out of their misery.
San Marino’s first 9-0 defeat in European Championship qualification came in June 1999, when giants Spain tormented them for 90 minutes.
Spain, featuring the likes of Pep Guardiola, Fernando Morientes, Raúl and Fernando Hierro, took the lead through a controversial penalty and then didn’t look back. They were 4-0 up at the break, but the worst was still to come as they added five more before full time.
Truthfully, this Spain side were good enough to put nine goals past most teams on the planet. It’s just a shame that San Marino found themselves in their sights back then.
Remember when I said that Spain side were good enough to score nine past anyone? They actually did so just months earlier.
It was Austria who were on the wrong end of a Raúl masterclass here. The Real Madrid icon opened the scoring after just six minutes, and the dominant Spaniards stormed to a 5-0 lead at the break.
It ended up as a 9-0 mauling, and Raúl stole the show with four goals to put the unfortunate Austrians to bed.
Before Raúl, it was Emilio Butragueño who was leading Spain to 9-0 wins.
La Roja needed 21 minutes to open the scoring, but they finished the first half with a 4-0 advantage, the highlight of which was Guillermo Amor’s powerful drive to get the goalscoring underway.
Five more followed after the break, most of which were about as scrappy as you’re ever likely to see. Butragueño finished with four to his name, in what was a comfortable showing for Spain.
— England Memories (@EnglandMemories)December 28, 2014
Spain may have picked up the most 9-0 victories, but it was actually England who stormed to the very first in qualification, against Luxembourg back in 1982.
A comical own goal saw England open the scoring after 18 minutes, and goals from Steve Coppell, Tony Woodcock and perhaps the worst volley of all time from Luther Blissett saw Sir Bobby Robson’s men carry a 4-0 lead at the break.
Three of England’s remaining five goals came in the dying embers of the game (including from Mark Chamberlain – father of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain), and the 9-0 scoreline saw them etch their name into the history books.
Now into the double figures, it was France who stole the headlines in 1995 when they stormed to a 10-0 win over Azerbaijan.
The likes of Zinédine Zidane, Marcel Desailly and Birmingham City legend Christophe Duggary all featured for Les Bleus, but the score was only 3-0 heading into the break. The Azerbaijan goalkeeper was hauled off before half time to try and stop things from getting too humiliating. But that’s where the fun started.
After what was perhaps the worst impact substitute of all time, France netted a ludicrous seven goals after the break to storm to an emphatic 10-0 win.
Ah, San Marino, long time no see.
They have been on the wrong end of countless results in the past, including this huge 11-0 mauling at the hands of the Netherlands.
It looked like it could have been a lot worse after the Dutch side were 3-0 up after just 17 minutes, but San Marino actually managed to weather the storm and get to the interval without conceding any more.
Unfortunately, all that hard work was for nothing as they allowed the Netherlands to net eight after the break. Goals from the likes of Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and a very young Georginio Wijnaldum were more than enough to earn the Dutch all three points.
It’s not often that a side who are in the process of getting demolished actually get themselves on the score sheet, but that’s exactly what Malta managed to do during their 12-1 loss to Spain in 1983.
Spain took the lead after 15 minutes, but Malta actually grabbed an equaliser soon after. The high spirits didn’t last long as the hosts netted twice just minutes later to take a 3-1 lead into the break. The second half saw Spain net a ridiculous nine goals, five of which came in a frantic nine-minute period midway through the period.
The craziest/most suspicious thing about this game is the fact that Spain needed to win by an 11-goal margin to qualify for Euro 1984, and that’s exactly what they did.
There were even accusations that Spain had spiked Malta’s lemons during half-time, but nothing was ever made of it. When life gives you lemons…
Rounding off the list is, of course, San Marino, who in their defence are working with a population about half the size of Hereford.
Germany were heavy favourites when the two sides met in 2006, but few really expected what was about to happen.
A strong German side, which featured the likes of Miroslav Klose, Michael Ballack and Lukas Podolski, didn’t hold back as they stormed to a huge 6-0 lead at half time.
As Brazil would find out some years later, German footballers aren’t big on mercy and they added another seven after the break, with Podolski and former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzelsperger both scoring braces in the same 10-minute period.
The demolition marks comfortably the most dominant performance in European qualification history.
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