International Goals Galore

The early days of association football saw a mainly attacking and free flowing goal scoring game. There were many high scoring matches with double figure scorelines and one-sided thrashings. The first official ‘international’ game took place in 1872 between Scotland and England and it ended in a 0-0 draw. England were chiefly one of the dominant teams in the Home Nations competitions in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s and were responsible for some very high scoring football.

We take a look back at some amazing scorelines from the 1950s up to the present day, involving the greatest footballing nations from around the world.

As mentioned, England were involved in numerous goal-laden games and in one game from the 50’s, legend Tom Finney scored four times as his side beat Portugal five-three having led 4-1 just before the hour mark. Brazilian Ademir also got four goals in an easy 7-1 victory over Sweden. In a truly remarkable game from the annuls of history, Switzerland were 7-5 victors over the Netherlands in a friendly played in October 1950. Charles Antenen was the chief scorer with three goals and the lead changed hands several times.

Scottish striker Billy Steel struck four goals in the space of 26 minutes, including a hat-trick in only 13 minutes, as his side easily disposed of Northern Ireland 6-1. Noud van Melis was another hat-trick hero as the Netherlands gained a topsy-turvy five-four win against close neighbours Belgium. However, the Belgians would gain revenge in a 1951 encounter in Rotterdam in yet another incredible game, with the final score 7-6! Leopold Anoul slotted home a first half hat-trick for Belgium, who led throughout the whole match. Wales were on the wrong end of a Rajko Mitic hat-trick in only 14 minutes, when they lost to Yugoslavia 5-2.

#An anniversary celebration match at Wembley Stadium saw England complete a superb comeback against a Rest of the World team in October 1953. Two goals from Italian Giampiero Boniperti helped the multi-national team to lead 3-1 just before half-time, but two strikes from Jimmy Mullen and then a powerful penalty by Alf Ramsey helped England to draw the match 4-4 with a minute to go.

The rampant Hungary team then showed their immense attacking class in the following couple of years. They crushed England 6-3 and 7-1 in two friendly games, with Nandor Hidegkuti, Ferenc Puskas, and Sandor Kocsis filling their scoring boots, before taking apart South Korea (9-0) and then West Germany (8-3) at the 1954 World Cup.

Dennis Wilshaw was the four-goal star when England beat Scotland 7-2 in a home nations game, and Thadee Cisowski went one better with five goals as France overcame Belgium 6-3. The magical Brazilians thrashed Colombia in a 1957 encounter with the outstanding Evaristo grabbing five of the nine goals, including a record-breaking hat-trick in only four minutes! Legends Just Fontaine (France), and Pele (Brazil) put in some remarkable performances towards the end of the 1950s. Fontaine struck a hat-trick in a 7-3 win over Paraguay, four goals against Germany (6-3), another three against Portugal (5-3), and then a treble playing Austria (5-2). Pele achieved two quick hat-tricks, in 23 minutes against and in 25 minutes versus Chile.

England managed some incredible high scoring in the early ’60s, with a host of easy victories. An away game to Luxembourg saw them win nine-nil with Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Greaves helping themselves to three goals each, and another Greaves’ hat-trick saw them annihilate Scotland 9-3. Mexico were also no match for the English (8-0), and Switzerland (8-1) were undone by another Charlton trio. Record goal scorer Jimmy Greaves helped himself to another four goals against Northern Ireland (8-3), and then a barrage of goals in the space of half-an-hour saw England put ten past the hapless United States.

Colin Stein put four past Cyprus as Scotland triumphed in a World Cup qualifying game, but one of the most amazing performances came when Germany met Cyprus in another WC qualifier in 1969. An outstanding rush of goals saw the Germans score six times in under 15 minutes and their first 10 goals only six minutes into the second half. The final score was 12-nil! Gerd Muller (4 goals), Wolfgang Overath (3), and Helmut Haller (2) were the main beneficiaries.

Netherlands displayed their brand of ‘Total Football’ in the early 1970s with some superlative victories. Johan Cruyff was one of the main architechs as the Dutch had resounding wins over Luxembourg (8-0), Norway (9-0), and Iceland (8-1). A Copa America match from 1975 saw Argentina meet Venezuela, and with goals from Mario Kempes, Daniel Killer, Mario Zanabria and Ossie Ardiles, a 11-0 trouncing was recorded including the first eight goals in just over an hour. Zico (Brazil), Roberto Bettega (Italy), and Ian Edwards (Wales), all struck four goals each in respective victories over Bolivia, Finland, and Malta.

Germany were one of the main goal scoring teams of the ’80s with thumping wins over Malta (8-0), Finland (7-1), Albania (8-0), and Finland (6-1). A rare ‘goal-laden tight game’ took place in 1982 when Wales came back from behind to draw 4-4 playing Yugoslavia. After trailing 3-1 just before half-time and 4-2 midway through the second half, Joey Jones pulled one back with a near post effort, and then Robbie James equalised from a free-kick with ten minutes to go.

England had one of their biggest wins in the modern era, with a 9-0 beating of Luxembourg at Wembley, and the Republic of Ireland achieved one of the largest wins in their history when they comprehensively defeated Malta 8-0 in a Euro qualifier in 1983. In a controversial game from 1983, Spain qualified for Euro 1984 by thrashing Malta 12-1, having had to win the match by at least 11 goals to qualify. Santillana and Poli Rincon netted four goals apiece and Antonio Maceda struck two goals in quick time.

One of the best strikers of his era, Marco van Basten hit a record-breaking five goals including a hat-trick in only 14 minutes, as Netherlands downed Malta eight-nil. France fired home seven second half goals in a 10-0 defeat of Azerbaijan, and Germany recorded another massive win, 9-1 versus Liechtenstein. Wales were again involved in an intense struggle when they visited Turkey in 1997. The home side led 2-0 inside the first ten minutes, before the Welsh took the lead twice, at 3-2 and 4-3. However, Hakan Sukur was the Turkish hero with his third goal in the 77th minute with a header, and his fourth in the 82nd minute with a neat run, as his side triumphed 6-4 for an amazing win.

Spain recorded two nine-nil victories over Austria and San Marino respectively, and then an eight-nil against Cyprus towards the end of the ’90s. However, one of the most incredible games in international football history took place in Rotterdam in September 1999. The visitors Belgium took a 2-0 lead in half-an-hour before the home team Netherlands struck three times before half-time with Edgar Davids grabbing a brace. Belgium re-took the lead soon after half-time but Patrick Kluivert completed his hat-trick in the 70th minute, as Holland led 5-4. Nonetheless, the Belgians were able to secure the draw when Emile Mpenza slotted home from close range in the 77th minute for an incredible finish! The final score 5-5.

A rampant Germany hammered five goals in only eight minutes, in an 8-2 defeat of Liechtenstein. From Euro 2000, Spain pulled off a miraculous comeback in a group game, to qualify for the next round with two goals in added time. Trailing Yugoslavia 3-2, Gaizka Mendieta converted a spot-kick in the 94th minute, before Alfonso booted in a downward header in the 95th minute for the win! Germany struck another seven goals, this time in under half-an-hour, in an easy win over Israel, with Miroslav Klose slamming in a 15-minute hat-trick, and two more trebles followed for the striker in comfortable victories for the Germans.

In 2006, Germany broke more records when they thrashed lowly San Marino 13-0 in a European Championship qualifying game. There were six goals in the space of 19 minutes, as they led 7-0 just after half-time, and then four in nine minutes to stretch the lead to 11 after only 73 minutes play. Lukas Podolski scored four goals, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, and Thomas Hitzlsperger netted two goals each. Netherlands made a superb comeback to defeat Austria 4-3, after trailing three-nil in 35 minutes, when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar struck his second goal in the 86th minute for a narrow win. Joaquin Botero was another hat-trick hero when Bolivia upset Argentina 6-1!

Modern day great Lionel Messi showed his class when he curled in a fantastic winner in the 84th minute after a solo run from near the half-way line for Argentina against fierce rivals Brazil in 2012. His side led 2-1 at half-time before trailing 3-2. However, Federico Fernandez got the equaliser with a quarter of an hour to go, before Messi completed a superb hat-trick with six minutes to go. Sweden staged a remarkable comeback to draw 4-4 against a stunned German team, who were comfortably winning 4-0 ten minutes into the second half. Firstly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed in a cross, then Mikael Lustig shot home after a goal keeping error two minutes later, before Johan Elmander slotted in a cross with 14 minutes to go. With the clock running down, Rasmus Elm smashed in the equaliser in the third minute of injury time!

In a 2013 Confederations Cup game, Spain hammered ten goals past Tahiti with Fernando Torres (four goals), David Villa (three), and David Silva (two), the main goal scorers. In one of the most famous football games in history, Germany met Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals and came out 7-1 winners in a surprisingly one-sided match. Four goals in only six minutes helped the Germans to a five-nil lead after half-an-hour. The USA produced a fantastic comeback when they defeated the Netherlands 4-3 after being 3-1 behind. John Brooks (70th minute), Danny Williams (88th), and Bobby Wood (final minute), were the US heroes.

All these, and other remarkable scores are listed in a series of ebooks available on Amazon. Short and compact books, with brief details and highlights, they summarise a whole list of high-scoring games, not only in International football, but the English Premier and European football leagues.

Written by Hitesh Kumar author of Goal Thrillers

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