In my last article, I explored the highest scoring games in Soccer history by score lines. Whilst these were interesting, there have been some far more famous games which have enthralled, engaged and have become more emblematic in Soccer history. The scores in these game cannot compare on goals scored but in terms of their seismic impact at the time in world Soccer they are results which many soccer fans will remember in disbelief for a variety of reasons. They also provide a great read.
Once again I have not placed them in any ‘Top 10’ order for that is a ‘subjective’ and potentially a cause for huge arguments! Similarly, if a game you consider should be in here but isn’t, apologies, there are simply too many throughout the annals of Soccer to choose from. The matches which follow have been picked for a various reasons – so if the result looks low scoring, please just take a look at the description and the context and that should more than provide validation for their inclusion. Enjoy!
Nottingham Forest 1 – Manchester United 8
6th of February 1999, English Premier League
Nottingham Forest fans will remember their return to the English Premier League in 1999 fondly. However, that is perhaps about as much as they would care to remember about that season and their return to Soccer’s ‘EPL Big Time’. A rampant Manchester United would ‘thump’ them 8-1 at the ‘City Ground’ leading to a demise which would see Forest relegated that season and also never manage to return to the English Premier League top flight since.
* Note this was an English Soccer away win league record which would stand for two decades. Until Leicester’s 9-0 victory at Southampton some twenty years later.
* Note 2. Current Manchester United Manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, scored 4 goals as substitute. A record that remains for the most Premier League goals scored by a substitute to this day.
AC Milan 5 – Real Madrid 0
19th of April 1989, Champions League Semi-Final
Real Madrid have always been regarded as the most successful club side in European Soccer and at the time of this result things were no different. They were for example in the middle of winning the Spanish ‘La Liga’ title for a fifth consecutive season. Reputations however, frequently mean little in Soccer and AC Milan didn’t care! Milan were a team which would later become renowned as one of the best club sides ever. The team included Ruud Guillet, Marco Van Basten, Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini (names which always come up when the debate about a greatest World Soccer XI is ever raised), and thrashed the Spanish giants 5-0 in a way that had never been done before. Indeed, it still stands as Real Madrid’s heaviest European defeat!
* Note, Milan would win the tie 6-1 overall on aggregate and go on to equally thrash Steaua Bucharest 4-0 in the final.
Barcelona wins 8-0, away from home, 4 times in La Liga!
Team(s) vanquished! Las Palmas 0 (1959/60), Almeira 0 (2010/11), Cordoba 0 (2014-15), Deportivo La Coruna 0 (2015-16)
Barcelona’s motto is ‘Mes que un club’ (More than a club) and they hold the record for La Liga’s (The Spanish Premier League’s) record away score victories on 4 different occasions by the same score line. Thrashing the teams mentioned 8-0 in the respective clubs ‘own backyard.’ Think we will leave it there as to why this one is included!
Liverpool 8 – Besiktas 0
6th of November 2007/8 European Champions League, Group Stage – Group A
The largest margin of victory after the qualifying rounds for the European Champions League is held by Liverpool with an 8-0 demolition of Besiktas at Anfield in 2007/8.
The same 8-0 score line was also achieved by Real Madrid in 1957 against Sevilla in the first-leg quarterfinal match of the European Cup.
* Note the largest victory in the knockout rounds of the Champions League is held by Manchester United with their 7-1 defeat of Roma in the second-leg quarterfinal match on April the 10th 2007.
Liverpool 10 – Fulham 0
23rd of Sept 1986, (1986-87 League Cup 2nd Round 1st Leg)
The score line speaks for itself here, so there is little to be said about the match itself other than Liverpool fans were actually a little upset! The Darling of the Kop, “King” Kenny Dalglish had inexplicably failed to get on the score sheet!
The goal scorers: Ronnie Whelan (1), Steve Nicol (1), Ian Rush (2), John Wark (2), Steve McMahon (4)
Fun Fact despite scoring 4 goals from midfield Steve McMahon was magnanimous enough to still miss a penalty!
Bolivia 6 – Argentina 1
1st of April 2009 – 2010 World Cup Qualifier.
Argentina rarely get beat by anyone by such a big score due to a famed parsimonious defense. Therefore, it is unheralded for them to be defeated by these relative minnows of South American Soccer when sitting third in the qualification group, some 8 points behind bitter rivals – table topping Brazil and after 13 games.
When you factor in one Diego Armando Maradona had returned as manager of the team in order to salvage Argentina’s poor start to qualifying for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, this result was nothing short of unprecedented. Indeed, the fact it came on the back of 3 successive victories for Maradona with zero goals conceded in the process makes it all the more astounding – and remains to this day Argentina’s worst result in World Cup qualifying history.
France 3 – Brazil 0
12th of July, 1998, World Cup Final!
Though this match was held in France, no one saw this result coming or by this big a score. France had never won a World Cup and Brazil had the original and the best “Ronaldo” – Ronaldo Luis de Nazario de Lima or ‘El Phenomen’ – widely regarded as the best player in the world at the time.
Nevertheless, Zinedine Zidane, (with 2 goals) inspired France to its first World Cup glory and handed Brazil its heaviest World Cup Final defeat at the same time. The 3-0 shutout remaining the largest in a World Cup Soccer Final to date.
Barcelona 5 – Real Madrid 0 (El Clasico)
29th of November 2010, Top of the Table Clash ‘La Liga’
This match was notable for many reasons. None more so than the fact the self-anointed ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho had specifically been brought to Real Madrid to beat the seemingly unstoppable Barcelona after achieving an unprecedented treble in Italy with Inter Milan the previous year.
This game was notable for too many reasons to mention; from ‘Messi to Mayhem’ so I’ll just provide you with an absolutely fantastic match report here which contains all of the drama. Including the ever listenable and even reasonably humble ‘Jose’ despite it being the heaviest defeat of his career!
Brazil 1 – Germany 7
9th July 2014, World Cup Semi Final.
If there was ever a result that can never be put into words – this is it. Those that witnessed it will testify there has never been a more shocking and disbelieving result in World Soccer. Brazil just do not lose by this margin ever! But they did and Brazilians in particular and many others still remain in shock when recalling it today. Take a look
Note, Oscar’s consolation goal did not even arrive until the 90th minute!
Liverpool 3 – AC Milan 3 “The Miracle in Istanbul”
Liverpool win 3-2 after extra time and penalties.
25th of May 2005 – European Champions League Final
It may seem somewhat odd and paradoxical that ‘a draw’ and victory by penalty shoot-out is chosen as one of the most famous high scoring games of all time. But read (and watch on) and you’ll see why!
The video below encapsulates the events and all-round emotion of the match best. But first, a brief overview for those unfamiliar with it.
Liverpool Football Club are 3-0 down to A.C. Milan at half time and ‘Kaka’ (Milan/Brazil and World Player of the Year) is destroying them. Liverpool fans fear it could end up 5,6,7,8 – zero. Some have even left the stadium or turned the television off!
Cue 3 things happened:
- Rafael Benitez makes a tactical change and puts Dietmar Hamman to stop the marauding Kaka.
- The famous LFC travelling faithful raise the roof and their team with noise.
- Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool Captain grabs the game by ‘the scruff of the neck’ and literally drags LFC back into the game on his own. The result a 3-3 draw and ultimately an impossible win after extra time on penalties!
See all the drama here: from player dejection to delight (and even dismay for some of the greatest players in World Soccer – notably Andriy Shevchenko), from fan frustration to frenzy, it’s all here and set to a brilliantly atmospheric version of You’ll Never Walk Alone.
*Note as it was Liverpool’s 5th European Cup success, they were awarded the trophy permanently and a new trophy had to be minted.
A fan and participator of more or less all sports up to University level from Burnley, England. I am now writing as a freelance sports journalist. My speciality in particular lies in global Football (soccer) – which I played to a semi-professional level.