In 2001, Australia set a new world record when they beat American Samoa 31 – 0 in an Oceania World Cup qualifier.
The World Cup finals in Qatar, which start shortly, are not likely to see a result of that size. However, in the finals themselves, there have been some healthy winning margins over the years.
Here are the biggest wins in World Cup finals to date.
Hungary 10-1 El Salvador 1982
The fact that El Salvador even reached the World Cup finals in 1982 was a minor miracle in itself, given that the country was ravaged by civil war at the time. But their campaign began with an absolute mauling at the hands of Hungary in Elche, becoming the first – and, to date – the only side to concede double digit goals in a World Cup finals match.
It was a day to remember for Hungarian substitute László Kiss who scored a seven minute hat-trick after being introduced off the bench. That is the fastest treble in a World Cup final match, and he remains the only non-starter to have achieved the feat.
El Salvador did much better in their remaining two matches, against Belgium and Argentina, but they still went home, along with Hungary.
Hungary 9-0 South Korea 1954
The Hungarians were regarded as the best team in the World at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland and underlined their credentials with a thrashing of South Korea in their group match in Zurich.
Sándor Péter Kocsis scored a hat-trick and both Ferenc Puskás, and Péter Palotás grabbed a brace each as they ran riot against their South Asian neighbours.
In their next match, the Hungarians trounced West Germany 8 -3 only to suffer a surprise reverse to them in the final in a match that became known as “The Miracle of Bern.”
Yugoslavia 9-0 Zaire 1974
Technically neither of these countries exists any more. Yugoslavia broke up into its constituent parts after the brutal Balkans conflict of the early 1990s, whilst Zaire is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zaire were the first African team to reach the World Cup finals but as the reigning African Nations Cup champions, they were considered the best team on the continent at the time. However, their campaign in West Germany was not short of controversy, with the country’s dictator President Mobutu buying houses and cars for all the players and setting up a fund for the players to dip into for whatever they needed.
However, when the players realised that corrupt officials had not only emptied the entire fund and this was also meant to cover wages and bonuses, they were outraged, realising they would not be paid.
A number of them vowed not to play their match against Yugoslavia in Gelsenkirchen, before FIFA stepped in and paid them each an allowance to tie them over.
However, they were understandably not motivated, and whilst suggestions they threw the game were refuted, suspicions still lingered.
Mobutu was not amused and sent presidential guards to the team hotel to threaten the players, saying that if they lost their next game to Brazil by four goals or greater, they would not be allowed to return home. Perhaps fortunately for them the Brazilians were content with just the three.
The Eight Club
Three other matches have been decided by eight goals.
Sweden were the first to manage it in the 1938 World Cup which was played in France, putting eight past Cuba in their quarter-final match. Harry Andersson and Gustav Wetterstrom each helped themselves to a hat-trick.
That was the only time Cuba has competed in the World Cup finals.
Twelve years later it was the turn of Uruguay, who would go on to win the World Cup for a second time in Brazil that year. Their victims were fellow South Americans Bolivia in a group game, with Oscar Miguez scoring three goals in the match.
He ended the tournament as the second highest scorer behind Ademir of Brazil.
Most recently Germany began their 2002 World Cup campaign by thumping Saudi Arabia 8-0 in Sapporo Japan. Miroslav Klose scored a hat-trick whilst Michael Bällack, Carsten Jancker and Oliver Bierhoff were among the other goalscorers.
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