The World Cup’s Biggest Wins

The gap between the strongest and weakest teams in World Football is getting smaller and heavy wins at World Cup finals are getting much rarer as a result. There are exceptions however as Portugal’s 7-0 victory over North Korea in 2010 proves but can we expect any similar scorelines in 2014?

That 7-0 win features in the top ten biggest victories in World Cup Finals history but who heads the list?

1. Hungary 10 El Salvador 1 – 1982

When El Salvador made it to Spain in 1982 they became the first Central American side to qualify for two World Cup finals. It was a historic point in the nation’s footballing history but the campaign wasn’t to be a happy one for Pipo Rodriguez’s side and it was to begin in the worst possible fashion.

Rodriguez’s men were not expected to progress from a tough group that included Hungary, Belgium and reigning champions Argentina but their early exit was effectively rubber stamped when they crashed to the Hungarians in the opener.

The great Tibor Nyilasi opened the scoring in the third minute but with the score at 3-0 at half time, there was no hint of the carnage that was to follow in the second period. Laszlo Kiss completed a hat trick as the Hungarians reached double figures although El Salvador did claim a 64th minute consolation through Luis Ramirez.

From that point, things could have got much worse for the Central American side but two subdued games followed in which Belgium and Argentina won by respective 1-0 and 2-0 scorelines. As for Hungary, their efforts were all in vain as they could only pick up one further point and were eliminated, along with El Salvador, at the group stage.

2. Yugoslavia 9 Zaire 0 – 1974

Central Africa’s Zaire made it to their first, and so far only World Cup finals in 1974 and although Blagoja Vidinic’s side were expected to fall at the first hurdle, the campaign started on a fairly bright note with a respectable, 2-0 defeat at the hands of Scotland.

Next up was for the Africans was a trip to Gelsenkirchen and while there may have been a little more confidence in the camp, things were to go badly wrong. Dusan Bajevic notched a hat trick while six further scorers contributed to the 9-0 mauling and the biggest defeat in World Cup history.

Zaire’s campaign was over but their most famous moment was still to come. In a 3-0 defeat to reigning Champions Brazil, Mwepu Ilunga broke from a defensive wall to boot the ball upfield before a free kick had been taken. It seemed to be an act of comedy but Ilunga later claimed he had been protesting at Zaire’s treatment during the tournament.


3. Hungary 9 South Korea 0 – 1954

The great Hungarian team of 1954 sailed through the qualifying rounds before a heart breaking defeat in the final at the hands of West Germany. This was a legendary team with names such as Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Kocsis and many believe them to be the best side never to have won the World Cup.

Hungary began their campaign with this emphatic victory over a struggling South Korea side who were lucky to get away with only conceding nine. The great Puskas opened the scoring while Kocsis went on to claim a hat trick inside 50 minutes. Puskas added a second while Peter Palotas also claimed a double strike.

The team known as the Magical Magyars went on to demolish West Germany by eight goals to three in their second group game so when the same sides met in the final, Hungary were the clear favourites. In a match widely acknowledged to be one of the best World Cup matches ever seen, the Hungarians were two up in eight minutes only for the Germans to fight back and snatch the game with an amazing 3-2 scoreline.

4. Germany 8 Saudi Arabia 0 – 2002

Germany fielded one of their least impressive teams in what was to become one of the most forgettable tournaments in World Cup history so it’s understandable that this sizeable win escapes the memory of most neutral fans.

Miroslav Klose is one man who certainly won’t forget the match as he notched the first of his 14 World Cup goals after just twenty minutes. Klose went on to score a hat trick while Michael Ballack was one of five different scorers to complete the rout.

The Saudis failed to find the net in their remaining qualifying games but at least results did improve. The squad lost 1-0 to Cameroon before saying goodbye to the World Cup with a 3-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland.

Germany never quite reached the heights of that opening match but somehow their below-par performances took them all the way to the final where they lost 2-0 to Brazil.

5. Uruguay 8 Bolivia 0 – 1950


Uruguay were the dominant team in early versions of the World Cup but they came into the 1950 competition behind the red hot favourites Brazil. This was the only tournament where the winners were not decided by a final match but the last remaining group game between the two South American teams was effectively the crucial tie.

Uruguay began their campaign with this opening round fixture against Bolivia who were fully expected to lose. The margin of defeat was certainly a surprise however as the legendary Juan Alberto Schiaffino added two goals to Oscar Miguez’s hat trick. Further strikes came from Ernesto Vidal, Julio Perez and Alcides Ghiggia as the complicated nature of early World Cup finals saw the Bolivians eliminated immediately.

Uruguay progressed to the final round but few observers gave the 1930 winners a chance after the early matches. The Uruguayans had scraped a draw against Spain before coming from behind to beat Sweden 3-2 while Brazil held the advantage after 6-1 and 7-1 victories over the same opponents.

A dramatic final match seemed to be going according to the script when Friaca opened the scoring for Brazil but an unexpected comeback saw second half goals from Schiaffino and Ghiggia hand the trophy to the underdogs.

6. Sweden 8 Cuba 0 – 1938

High scoring games were fairly commonplace in World Cups of the 1930’s but this demolition proved to be the biggest win of all the pre-war matches. Sweden had a strong side in those days and would later progress to the World Cup final of 1958 but twenty years earlier they finished in fourth place after a strong campaign.

Unlike the other matches on this list, Sweden’s win came in the knockout phase after Cuba had edged past Romania in the opening round. For that reason, the feat is all the more remarkable and it featured two hat tricks from Tore Keller and Gustav Wetterstrom. Arne Nyberg and Harry Andersson completed the rout against a hapless Cuban side who could offer nothing up front to threaten their opponents.

Cuba exited the competition while Sweden were emphatically beaten 5-1 by the emerging Hungarians in the semi finals. A third place play off resulted in a further loss at the hands of Brazil but the 8-0 battering of the Cubans remains one of Swedish football’s greatest moments.


7. Portugal 7 North Korea 0 – 2010

Four teams have completed 7-0 scorelines in the history of the World Cup and the Portuguese accomplished this feat most recently. North Korea were surprise qualifiers for the tournament but were by no means disgraced in their opener as they lost 2-1 to the mighty Brazil.

Fortunes were to change in the next match however as a rampant Portugal side showed no mercy for their opponents. Raul Meireles, Simao, Hugo Almeida, Liedson, Cristiano Ronaldo and Tiago Mendes with a brace heaped the misery on North Korea who were unable to reply and as a result the biggest World Cup win of 2010 unfolded.

There was a minor improvement in the next game as the North Koreans kept a relatively respectable scoreline in a 3-0 defeat to the Ivory Coast. However, it wasn’t enough to placate a political regime who regarded the campaign as a pure disgrace and reports began to emerge of public humiliations for the squad as they returned home. Meanwhile, Portugal could only draw their two other ties and that meant that they faced a tough round of 16 game against eventual winners Spain. A 1-0 defeat meant that incredibly, Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of his side had only managed seven goals in the competition – all of which came in that solitary fixture.

8. Poland 7 Haiti 0 – 1974

Poland were an unfancied side at the start of qualifying for the 1974 World Cup but after edging past England and making it on the plane to West Germany, the squad would eventually finish in third place. The Poles also produced the tournament’s leading goal scorer in Grzegorz Lato, whose seven strikes included a brace against the hapless Haitians.

Haiti began with a good display in a 3-1 loss to the Italian side but like many teams before them, they crumbled in their second fixture. Lato had scored twice in an opening victory over Argentina and would add another double in this 7-0 humbling but the winger was outscored by Andrzej Szarmach who completed his hat trick in the 50th minute. Kazimierz Deyna and Jerzy Gorgon completed the scoring and the result meant that the Poles would progress while Haiti’s first campaign ended in failure.

Poland would go on to beat Italy en route to the semi finals while Haiti lost their final group match to the Argentines. However, Emmanuel Sanon had the consolation of scoring his second goal of the tournament in a 4-1 defeat.

9. Uruguay 7 Scotland 0 – 1954

Four years after their 8-0 demolition of Bolivia, Uruguay almost produced an identical result in the high scoring World Cup tournament of 1954. The Scots hopes of progression had already taken a setback with a 1-0 reverse at the hands of Austria but one of the weaker sides in the competition were to be completely humiliated by the reigning World Champions.

Carlos Borges got the scoring underway after 17 minutes and he would go on to complete a hat trick with two second half strikes. Oscar Miguez and Julio Abbadie added two goals apiece as a strong South American side completed the demolition job.

Scotland duly returned home with no points and no goals from their two matches and while Uruguay were just as strong as they had been while winning the title in 1950, they were no match for the mighty Hungarians who came through their semi final tie by four goals to two. Champions four years previously, the Uruguayans had to settle for fourth place after a 1-0 defeat to Austria in their final game.

10. Turkey 7 South Korea 0 – 1954

What a miserable tournament for South Korea in 1954! Thrashed 9-0 by Hungary in their opening match, the side headed to Geneva in the hope of a morale boosting performance against the Turks but the outcome was almost as demoralising.

Turkey had shown little in the way of quality as they went down by four goals to one in their opening match against the Germans but the hapless South Koreans provided them with perfect shooting practice as they strove to remain in the competition. Burhan Sargun helped himself to a hat trick while two goals from Suat Mamat and further strikes from Lefter and Erol sealed the memorable scoreline.

South Korea headed home with the worst record of any side at a World Cup finals but Turkey narrowly avoided adding their name to this list by losing 7-2 to West Germany in their final group game.

Scorelines of this magnitude are getting much rarer but as Portugal proved in 2010, big victories can still happen. Will we see any countries joining this list in 2014 or will the World Cup in Brazil prove to be a more competitive tournament as far as the lower ranked nations are concerned?

You may also like...