The 10 Biggest World Cup Tonkings

A look at some of the mightiest goalfests the World Cup has thrown up in the past. Germany 4-1 England is small-fry compared to these hammerings.
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A look at some of the mightiest goalfests the World Cup has thrown up in the past. Germany 4-1 England is small-fry compared to these hammerings.

1. Hungary 10 El Salvador 1, 1982

El Salvador’s World Cup record is not a proud one. Their attempt to qualify in 1970 led to rioting and a short war against Honduras. And on the two occasions they did make it to the finals, they lost every game, including this record whupping against Hungary. Laszlo Kiss ran riot, bagging a hat-trick, with Luis Ramirez’s goal was the only consolation for the South Americans.

2. Hungary 9 Korea 0, 1954

The Hungarians were strong favourites to win the 1954 tournament, and the Magical Magyar side containing Puskas, Kocsis, Hidegkuti and Czibor banged home goals with a frequency seen neither before or since in the World Cup. The hapless Koreans were a total mismatch for one of the greatest sides ever to grace the game, but the Hungarians were ultimately disappointed, too – they blew a 2-0 lead in the final against West Germany.

3. Yugoslavia 9 Zaire 0, 1974

The Simbas (Lions) of Zaire – now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo – has a torrid time during their one visit to the World Cup Finals. The reigning African Nations Cup champions left goalless and were subjected to this (then) record-breaking thrashing.

4. Germany 8 Saudi Arabia 0, 2002

Germany’s biggest ever World Cup victory lifted the clouds of gloom hanging over Rudi Voller’s unfancied team and gave them the impetus to make it through to the final. Miroslav Klose scored three headers against a woeful Middle Eastern outfit, and it could have been much worse: the Germans had 27 shots in total compared to their opponents’ two.

"They stood around like Highland cattle’ said a British newspaper of the Scottish defence."

5. Sweden 8 Cuba 0, 1938

Cuba’s national sport may be baseball, but in 1938 they became the first Caribbean team to qualify for the finals. It was an eventful trip: they exceeded expectations to make the quarter-finals, only to be walloped 8-0 by Sweden, and haven’t been seen at the tournament since. The Swedes went on to lose 4-2 in the final to Brazil.

6. Uruguay 8 Bolivia 0, 1950

Eventual winners Uruguay overwhelmed their South American rivals to emphatically win their bizarre two-team, one-game group. Bolivia didn’t qualify for another 44 years, and remain one of South America’s least successful sides.

7. Uruguay 7 Scotland 0, 1954

‘They stood around like Highland cattle’ said a British newspaper of the Scottish defence, who came up against a rampant Uruguayan side determined to retain the trophy they’d won four years earlier. With dazzling technique and pace, the holders ran in seven goals. To rub salt into the wound, the system the South Americans used had been developed in Scotland.

8. Poland 7 Haiti 0, 1974

Many reckoned the Haitians lucky to be in West Germany at all after a series of fortuitous refereeing decisions in qualifying, and they must have wished they hadn’t bothered. Their ginger haired, mulatto centre back Ernst Jean-Jones tested positive for drugs, their cultural attaché was sacked amid the controversy, and they took a terrible beating at the hands of a Lato-inspired Poland.

9. Italy 7 USA 1, 1934

The Americans had been semi-finalists in 1930, but only two of the players from that fine side made the long trip to Italy. The hosts, meanwhile, were fully expected to win the tournament, and with Il Duce Mussolini smirking in the stands, Vittorio Pozzo’s men overran the depleted American team in the Stade Torino.

10. Brazil 7 Sweden 1, 1974

Sweden started this game the livelier, missing ‘two chances before Brazil even moved’ according to manager George Raynor. But once the South Americans opened the scoring, they couldn’t stop. Ademir grabbed four goals in what became almost an exhibition match; the Swedes could only manage a Sune Andersson penalty in reply.

And although not in the list, who can forget this this 7-0 obliteration of the North Korean's by Portugal at this World Cup. The Koreans were probably glad Kim Jong-il stopped them from seeing this one...

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