The history of football is littered with big wins and unbelievable comebacks. And while modern formations and tactics mean teams are far more adept at keeping the ball out than they once were, that does not mean to say that outrageous scorelines are a thing of the past. FIFA.com proves the point by reliving some of the more outlandish results of recent times.
Goals, goals and more goals
Our first port of call in this round-up of goalfests is Colombia and the Clásico Regional between Atletico Huila and Atletico Tolima, which ended in a 7-4 win for the visiting Tolima, an eye-popping scoreline made all the more incredible by the fact that the away team were 6-3 up at half-time.
"It makes me very sad, and I’d like to apologise to the fans. I’m seriously thinking about my position," lamented Huila coach Guillermo Berrio, whose status as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer did not prevent him from getting the sack shortly afterwards.
Portsmouth and Reading ran up the same scoreline in an English Premier League match in September 2007, with most of the fun coming after the half-time interval. Leading 2-1 at the break, Pompey eventually ran out 7-4 winners after a crazy second half that brought two own goals, a missed penalty for the visitors, which would have brought them level at 3-3, and a third goal for the home side’s Zimbabwean striker Benjani Mwaruwari, who scored twice in the first half.
Another memorable 11-goal spectacular came in the group phase of the UEFA Champions League four years earlier, when eventual runners-up Monaco thrashed Deportivo La Coruna 8-3, the biggest win in Champions League history. Four of the French side’s goals came from their Croatian forward Dado Prso, who just happened to be celebrating his 29th birthday that day.
Swiss outfit FC Wil went three better than Monaco in a league meeting with St. Gallen in 2002, inflicting the most emphatic of 11-3 defeats on their hapless guests, all this after Gallen had taken the lead.
One result Feyenoord fans will not forget in a hurry is the 10-0 thrashing Eredivisie rivals PSV Eindhoven meted out to them last October. "It’s difficult to understand what happened," said shell-shocked left-back Tim de Cler after the Rotterdam club’s worst ever defeat. "We all did our own thing after the first goal and the sending-off, and the team just fell apart."
Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona did their best to outdo PSV just a few days later, putting eight past Almeria without reply and then dishing out an unforgettable 5-0 hammering to championship rivals Real Madrid. And staying on the subject of one-sided wins, 2007 proved to be a vintage year in the Champions League, with Liverpool outclassing Besiktas 8-0 at Anfield only a few weeks after compatriots Arsenal had crushed Slavia Prague 7-0.
The 2006 La Plata derby between Estudiantes and Gimnasia y Esgrima was an equally one-sided affair, El Pincha chalking up a 7-0 win, the like of which had not been seen in an Argentinian clásico since 1940, when Independiente beat their Avellaneda foes Racing Club by the same scoreline. "We’ve achieved something historic today," said Estudiantes striker Mariano Pavone afterwards. "When we’re old and grey the people who were here today will remind us of this game."
Letting it slip
Scoring a hatful of goals is not always a guarantee of success, as Real Salt Lake can vouch for after falling 5-4 to Cruz Azul in the group phase of the 2010 CONCACAF Champions League. Seemingly in control at 3-1 up midway through the second half, the MLS outfit were rocked by a Javier Orozco hat-trick, the last of his goals coming in the 90th minute. The Americans somehow grabbed an injury-time equaliser only to lose the lead again, and the match, when Christian Gimenez slotted home with seconds remaining.
Austria’s Sturm Graz nearly had a similar tale to tell after their 2008 league match with SV Mattersburg. Five goals to the good at half-time and in complete command, Graz then eased off, allowing their opponents to pull level at 5-5 before restoring order with a late winner. Another 6-5 scoreline came in the final phase of the 2007 Bahia state championship in Brazil, with Vitoria squeaking home against old foes Bahia in a topsy-turvy match in which the lead changed hands continually, Bahia coming back from 5-3 down only to lose out.
Few fightbacks have been quite as exciting, however, as the one Bobby Robson’s Barcelona served up against Atletico Madrid in a 1997 Copa del Rey quarter-final tie. Three goals from Ronaldo and further strikes by Luis Figo and Juan Pizzi helped the Catalans overturn a 3-0 half-time deficit and run out 5-4 winners against the reigning league champions.
Marseille faced an even bigger task in a Ligue 1 match with Montpellier the following year, finding themselves 4-0 down at the break. "The game is lost," L’OM coach Rolland Courbis told his charges in the dressing room. "All you can do now is salvage your pride." They did more than that. Led by Christophe Dugarry, the scorer of two goals in a heroic second-half performance, Olympique emerged 5-4 winners after current France coach Laurent Blanc converted a last-minute penalty.
Score draws and unlikely feats
Marseille served up more unfeasible entertainment two years later, drawing 5-5 at Lyon, with half the goals coming in an extraordinary final 11 minutes. Though he described the game as amazing for the fans, visiting coach Didier Deschamps was not a happy man: "To score five goals away from home and still not win is frustrating. We’ve dropped two points today."
Scottish Premier League rivals Motherwell and Hibernian each went a goal better when they faced off in May that year, though the Edinburgh side were kicking themselves after leading 4-1 and 6-2, with Hibs goalkeeper Graeme Smith even saving a penalty three minutes from time, with his side leading 6-5. The Steelmen were not to be denied, though, and Lukas Jutkiewicz levelled the score in the third minute of stoppage time. It was the first time such a result had been seen in the UK since April 1930, when Leicester City and Arsenal shared 12 goals.
It was at around that time that the mighty Barcelona suffered the two biggest league defeats of their history: a 12-1 drubbing at the hands of Athletic Bilbao in 1931, and an 11-1 defeat to Sevilla a decade later.
However, the undisputed masters of improbable scorelines are surely newly-crowned German champions Borussia Dortmund, who have taken part in the four highest-scoring matches in Bundesliga history. Drubbed 11-1 by Bayern Munich in 1971 and 12-0 by Borussia Monchengladbach in 1978, Die Schwarzgelben racked up a 9-3 win over Kaiserslautern in 1963 and trumped that achievement in crushing Arminia Bielefeld 11-1 in 1982.