The first season of English football’s Premier League kicked off on Saturday 15 August 1992, with two amazing games, the first Norwich City beating Arsenal 4-2 away at Highbury, with Mark Robins scoring two goals after trailing two-nil at half-time. Then at Selhurst Park, when Crystal Palace grabbed a last-minute equaliser from Simon Osborn to draw 3-3 at home to Blackburn Rovers, despite Alan Shearer grabbing a brace for the visitors on his debut. In all, there were just over 1,200 goals scored throughout the season, at just over two and a half goals per game.
There have been numerous high-scoring games in the Premier League, from one-sided thrashings to last-minute equalisers and winners.
One such match played in the 2nd week of the inaugural season was Oldham Athletic’s pulsating 5-3 victory over Nottingham Forest. It took a while for the first goal to arrive but just like buses they came in droves thereafter. With 1-0 and 31 minutes displayed on the big scoreboard at Boundary Park, things changed quickly and within the space of just 28 minutes the Latics were five goals to the good. However, Stuart Pearce scored a penalty for Forest, before striker Gary Bannister netted two goals in two minutes in the final five minutes to give the visitors some respectability.
On the final day of the inaugural season, in front of a packed Anfield, Liverpool hammered Spurs 6-2 with club legends Ian Rush and John Barnes scoring two goals each in an easy victory for the Reds, with three goals in the final ten minutes sealing the three points. On the same afternoon, Oldham Athletic were at it again when they beat Southampton 4-3 at Boundary Park. The Latics again took a healthy 4-1 lead before Saints maverick Matt Le Tissier’s grabbed a hat-trick for the visitors but Oldham Athletic held on to a vital victory which helped to secure their Premiership status.
The Saints and Matt Le Tissier was at it again the following season in what will go down as one the EPL’s most entertaining games in history. The venue was Carrow Road and the teams taking part, Norwich City and Southampton. The Canaries took a 3-1 lead before the Saints got back on level terms. Chris Sutton then put the home side back into the lead again before Southampton talisman Matt Le Tissier netted his hat-trick to make it 4-4, Le Tiss or ‘Le God’ as he was known at The Dell wasn’t quite done just yet, this time turning provider to set up Ken Monkou for a dramatic winner. What a game!
In one of the most historic one-sided games in the history of football, Manchester United completed a rampant, record-breaking 9-0 victory at home to Ipswich Town. Roy Keane got the first goal after quarter of an hour, United made it three-nil at half-time with a brace of goals from Andy Cole. The Red Devils went goal-crazy after the break; Cole completing his hat-trick with a header, Mark Hughes claiming two goals in four minutes, Cole netting his fourth from a rebound, and Paul Ince getting in on the act with just under 20 minutes to play, for an eight-nil lead. Man of the Match, King Cole finalised his own record-breaking afternoon, with his fifth goal, and United’s ninth, with three minutes to go. The Tractor Boys keeper, poor Craig Forrest spent most of his afternoon on his back.
One of the most famous upsets in Premier league history came at The Dell, Southampton in 1996 when a confident Southampton side pulled off an amazing 6-3 win against the mighty Manchester United team. Eyal Berkovic opened the scoring for the Saints and by half time Southampton led Alex Ferguson’s men 3-1. United famously switched from the grey strip to the blue kit at half time due to concerns over visibility and it helped United pull a goal back, but a brace from Berkovic and Egil Ostenstad helped to give the Saints a famous 6-3 victory over the Champions.
Manchester United went on a goal feast again, this time away at The City Ground by beating Nottingham Forest 8-1 for the largest league victory away from home, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer becoming the first man to score four goals as a substitute. United went into a two-one lead after only seven minutes, and this was stretched to 4-1 midway through the second-half, with the deadly striking duo of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole netting a couple of goals each. When Solskjaer came off the bench, there was still over a quarter of an hour to play. Ole got his first goal in the 80th minute, his next two in the final two minutes, and his fourth in injury time, all from close range. Apparently, according to some statistics, there were only ten shots on target in the whole game!
To end the 2002/03 season on a high, Arsenal ran out 6-1 victors against Southampton, courtesy of a hat-trick a piece from Robert Pires and Jermaine Pennant. The Gunners scored five of their goals in the space of just 17 minutes to devastate the Saints. In the 2004/05 season, Arsenal were again the victors in a nine-goal thriller against their near neighbours Tottenham Hotspur. After Spurs scored the first goal just after the half-hour mark, the Gunners went on to lead 3-1, 4-2, and 5-3, before hanging on for a 5-4 win in an immense struggle.
In the same season, Norwich City staged one of the most remarkable comeback draws in the history of the Premier League, when they netted three late goals against Middlesbrough. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Franck Queudrue scored a brace each, as Middlesbrough led four-one with just over ten minutes to go. However, debutant Dean Ashton scored with ten minutes remaining, Leon McKenzie headed in on the stroke of full-time before Adam Drury got the injury time equaliser from a corner, for a 4-4 result. Even more of a remarkable comeback occurred in the 2010/11 season, when Newcastle United came back from four goals behind to level matters against their bewildered opponents Arsenal. The Gunners stormed into an early two-nil lead after three minutes, 3-0 after ten minutes, and 4-0 after only 26 minutes, with Dutch striker Robin van Persie scoring two of their goals. The Toon refused to give in, as first Joey Barton converted a penalty, and Leon Best shot in from close range, with quarter of an hour still remaining. Barton then slotted in his second penalty with seven minutes to go, before a thunderbolt from Cheik Tiote in the 87th minute levelled the score to send the St James Park crowd wild with delight.
Still the highest scoring game to date in the Premier League, is Portsmouth’s 7-4 goal-fest at home to Reading, early in the 2007/08 season. The Zimbabwean striker, Benjani, grabbed a hat trick for Pompey. Again according to the statistics, there were 17 shots on target, 11 from Portsmouth and six from Reading!
Staying in the same season, Middlesbroughinflicted a heavy 8-1 defeat over Manchester City, with Afonso Alves netting a hat-trick and Stewart Downing with a brace. An unbelievable score in this present day and age!
To continue the heavy-defeat / one-sided affair theme, the 2009/10 season saw Tottenham Hotspur thrash Wigan Athletic 9-1 after a record-breaking performance by Jermain Defoe. An incredible match saw Spurs lead only one-nil at half-time, having scored their first goal in the ninth minute. Defoe then scored the first of his five goals in the 51st minute, another two to complete his treble in only seven minutes, and his fourth in the 69th minute. Allied with goals from Aaron Lennon, David Bentley, and Niko Kranjcar, Defoe secured his fifth on the 87-minute mark, as Spurs scored an astonishing eight goals in the second half, five of them in the space of 18 minutes.
One of the most incredible hat-tricks in the league, was scored by Senegal striker Sadio Mane for Southampton against Aston Villa, in a 6-1 win during the 2014/15 season. Scored in precisely two minutes and 56 seconds, Mane netted his first in the 13th minute, his second a minute later, and his third in the 16th minute – to date still the fastest hat-trick in the history of the Premier League.
Sergio Aguero went on a lightning goal-spree, with fivein only 20 minutes, as Manchester City downed Newcastle United 6-1 during the 2015/16 season. Having scored his first goal in the 42nd minute with a header, Aguero then completed his hat-trick in only eight minutes, before adding another two in two minutes, finishing with a close-range shot in the 62nd minute.
All these, and other remarkable scores are listed in a series of ebooks available on Amazon with brief details and highlights, they summarise a plethora of high-scoring games, not only in the English Premier and Football Leagues, but European and International football.
Written by Hitesh Darji, Author of Goal Thrillers