With Pep Guardiola’s star-studded Manchester City side having won 14 consecutive Premier League matches and plundered 45 goals in the process, people are already talking about the club enjoying an unbeaten season and breaking the record for goals scored in a single Premier League campaign.
Despite their attacking brilliance, even City would struggle to match the goal-scoring feats of the teams featured in today’s post. Here we’ll look at some of the highest scoring matches in the history of the game, from the truly sublime to the utterly ridiculous. Let’s get started.
Arbroath 36 – Bon Accord 0, September 1885
The biggest win in the UK took place in Scotland more than 130 years ago, when Arbroath hosted Bon Accord in the first round of the 1885 Scottish Cup. Even in an age that was renowned for its rudimentary attacking tactics and high-scoring games, the size of Arbroath’s record breaking win was genuinely unprecedented.
Bon Accord had only formed a year before, and according to legend, arrived at the game without any form of standard kit or equipment. The club’s lack of preparedness embodied the gulf between the two sides, and this became even more apparent once the match kicked-off for real.
Arbroath raced into an early lead, and had scored a staggering 15 goals by half-time. The second period was even worse for Bon Accord, who tired as the game wore on and conceded a further 21 goals before the final whistle spared them any further embarrassment.
The final score of 36-0 did not flatter Arbroath, particularly when you consider that the club also had a staggering five goals disallowed. It was an especially memorable afternoon for Arbroath striker John Petrie, who scored an incredible 13 goals to write his name into football history.
AS Adema 149 – Stade Olympique de l’Emyrne 0, October 2002
Arbroath’s record lasted for just over 117 years, before an incredible turn of events in Madagascar saw it obliterated during the autumn of 2002.
The story starts during the previous game, when SO l’Emyrne were held to a contentious draw that ended their title hopes (they were to top flight champions the year before). A late and highly debatable penalty decision by the referee cost them crucial points in the defence of their title, affording AS Adema an unassailable advantage before the clubs met in the final game of the season.
With emotions running high, SO l’Emyrne decided to stage a protest in this dead rubber match. From the kick-off, their players began to pass the ball backwards and into their own net, repeating this act relentlessly for both halves of football. Unsurprisingly, when the referee eventually finally blew the whistle to end the debacle, SO l’Emyrne has lost 149-0 and made history for the wrong reasons (although the side managed to boast impressive possession statistics).
It’s amazing that the game was not abandoned before the end, but this incredible act of self-sabotage certainly cost SO l’Emyrne. The coach and four players (including the Madagascan national team captain) received three-year bans for their role in the protest, while the result has gone down in history and turned the club into a legendary memory of defiance.
Australia 31 – American Samoa 0, April 2001
In international football, it’s widely believed that there is too large a chasm between some of the sides that compete across the globe. This is particularly evident in Oceania, where established sides like Australia must compete against barely-established minnows to qualify for competitions like the World Cup.
During their campaign to qualify for the 2002 World Cup in Japan, Australia broke the record for the biggest ever win in international football twice in three days. After a 22-0 win over Tonga, they hosted an American Samoa side that were yet to record a victory as a FIFA-recognised opponent and officially ranked as the worst team in the world.
Still, their 31-0 win was ruthless in the extreme, meaning the ruthless Aussies had rifled in 53 goals in just 72 hours. Striker Archie Thompson led the way against Samoa with a record 13 goals, while David Zdrilic had the unusual distinction of scoring eight times and still being outshone in front of goal.
The result should be placed into context by the chaotic preparation of an American Samoa team, who were forced to draft in three 15-year olds and some players that had never played a full 90-minute game before!
Austria 7 – Switzerland 5, June 1954
The 1954 World Cup was hosted in Switzerland and is arguably the most memorable ever for statistics. While just 16 teams competed, the tournament set several goal-scoring records and featured one of the greatest-ever international sides in the form of Hungary’s ‘Magical Magyars’.
The second quarter-final between Austria and Switzerland also produced the highest scoring game in World Cup finals history. With 12 goals scored in total, the hosts slipped to a thrilling and barely believable 7-5 defeat.
Encouraged by a roaring crowd, the Swiss scored three times in the opening 20 minutes to open a commanding lead. 1934 semi-finalists Austria fought back, however, drawing level with three goals in three startling minutes before netting twice more in quick succession. The Swiss managed to score again before half-time, leaving the game precariously balanced at 5-4.
The second half was less frantic. Austria consolidated their advantage and scored two additional goals to eventually run out 7-5 winners. Theodor Wagner was the Austrian hero with a polished hat-trick, although Swiss striker Josef Hügi emulated this feat and still managed to end up on the losing side.
This was as good as it got for Austria, they were thrashed 6-1 by eventual winners Germany in the semi-final. Unsurprisingly, this incredible tournament also produced the highest ever average of goals per game at a World Cup final, and this record is unlikely to ever be beaten. If it is, we would love to be there to see it!