World Football: 50 Greatest Upsets Ever, Part Two (No. 25 to 1)
In Part One of the most sensational upsets ever witnessed in professional footballing history, we saw Greece and South Korea record memorable triumphs on the biggest international stages, Portugal spank the world champions, Fulham batter Juventus and George Weah's Liberia overcome by minnows Mali.
In Part Two, I countdown the the 25 biggest shock results ever recorded in either domestic or international football throughout the world, including Liverpool's memorable 2005 Champions League reversal against AC Milan, dubbed the "Miracle of Istanbul."
So sit back and enjoy the mayhem—and feel free to comment if you have any opinions on this list or disagree with some of the placings.
25. USA 2-1 Colombia, 1994, FIFA World Cup
''Gracias por el autogoal.'' Thanks for the own goal.
These were the last words former Colombia defender Andres Escobar reportedly heard after he was assassinated outside the El Indio restaurant shortly after returning from the World Cup. Millions mourned, millions sought justice against the assailants.
That colleague Gabriel Gomez had withdrawn from the crucial group match against USA—which tournament favourites Colombia would lose 2-1 no thanks to Escobar's mishap—just moments before kick-off after he received a death threat by fax and was ushered into police protective surveillance was sinister and threatened to undermine the sport.
Tragedy aside, this game had it all and was a huge upset and now forms a memorable thread in the fabric of World Cup history.
24. Sutton United 2-1 Coventry, 1989, F.A. Cup
Grainy Match of the Day footage, a youthful Steve Ogrizovic in goal for the visitors and some nostalgic Eighties techno-pop to introduce the highlights of this ''Giant-killing'' should not obscure the memory or magnitude of this feat by Sutton United at the wonderfully-named ground Gander Green Lane.
Captain Tony Rains scored the opener and Matthew Hanlan, the winner in a third-round triumph that remains the last occasion on which a non-league team defeated a top-flight team.
23. Manchester United 0-0 Exeter City, 2005, F.A. Cup
Some may point to the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson had rested the majority of his first team for what should have been the easiest of victories against non-league Exeter City at Old Trafford as a reason for the below-par performance of the Red Devils.
However, it is one thing beating a top-flight side at home on a bobbly pitch in front of your own supporters, another thing entirely keeping a clean sheet on a pristine playing surface in front of 70,000 fans baying for blood against a group of international players.
But that was the impressive outcome which Alex Inglethorpe—now an youth team coach at Spurs—managed to achieve despite the best efforts of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville.
22. Ivory Coast 3-0 Algeria, 1982, African Cup of Nations
After Algeria won the tournament on home soil two years earlier, expectations were high for Rabah Madjer and his team-mates.
However, the Elephants upset the odds in a big way as they raced into a two-goal lead after 45 minutes, with goals from Abdoulaye Traore and Youssouf Falikou Fofana (pictured). A third goal from Joel Tiehi saw off the North Africans in what is considered to be one of the biggest-ever shocks in African football.
21. Southampton 6-1 Manchester United, 1996, Premier League
The second of three appearances by United is their 6-3 drubbing by Southampton 14 years ago.
Inspired by the mercurial Matt Le Tissier and Egil Ostenstadt hat-trick (yes, he did score more than one league goal), and aided by some Sunday league defending, the Saints looked world-class for 90 minutes as they threatened to send visiting manager Sir Alex Ferguson into an early grave.
20. Cameroon 1-0 Argentina, 1990, FIFA World Cup
What do you hope for from the opening match of the biggest sports tournament on the planet:a sporting great? Controversy? A shock result? Check, check, check.
Italy 1990. Cameroon defeat powerhouse Argentina, blessed with the inclusion of possibly the greatest player ever to kick a football - Diego Maradona. ''Act One: little Superman against the first challenge of Africa,'' as the commentator dubs the game.
But what a challenge! Nine-man Cameroon, despite the dismissals of Kana-Biyick and Massing, sent shockwaves throughout the footballing world after Francois Omam-Biyick usurped Maradona as hero for a day with a soft header which Argentine goalkeeper Pumpido fluffed hopelessly.
19. Germany 1-5 England, 2001, Euro Qualifying Match
England's most famous and best-ever victory? Perhaps 2001's magic night does not quite beat their World Cup triumph in 1966 at Wembley but it was perhaps even more improbable.
One-nil behind after Carsten Jancker sixth-minute, close-range finish, The Three Lions rallied before halftime with goals from Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard. In the second-half, Owen completed a hat-trick and there was even time for Emile Heskey to do what he so often failed to achieve—score a goal for England.
The match would give rise to the chant "5-1" and even Heskey scored. The Germans did not, in this instance, appreciate the English self-deprecating sense of humour.
18. Artmedia Petrzalka 5-0 Celtic, 2005, UEFA Champions League Qualifying Match
Out of unemployment and into the firing line. Gordon Strachan witnessed Celtic's most embarrassing night ever in his first match in charge of the Hoops, a 5-0 hammering by Slovakian minnows Artmedia.
Juraj Halenar scored a wonderful hat-trick to dismantle a team boasting the attacking duo of John Hartson and Chris Sutton on a night to forget for any travelling Scots.
17. Calais 3-1 Bordeaux, 2000, French Cup
''We have written one of the most beautiful pages in French football history,'' said amateur team Calais Racing Union's coach Ladislas Lozano after they defeated the mighty Girondins de Bordeaux 3-1 to reach the final of the 2000 French Cup final.
So much was the result a seemingly foregone conclusion that French media has started reporting a Bordeaux victory, only to see Matthie Millien and Mickael Gerrard score last-gasp goals to send the port into raptures, with 5,000 waiting to welcome their heros into the main square.
16. Iraq 3-1 Australia, 2007, Asian Cup
Unsurprisingly, Everton's Tim Cahill looks distraught in the above photo. He had just witnessed his country being embarrassed by a tiny nation in footballing terms, Iraq, to all but end the hopes of the Aussies in the 2007 Asian Cup.
Hawar Mulla Mohamed and Karrar Jasim Mohamed scored the decisive goals after Brett Emerton had equalised Nashat Akram's opening goal.
The Australian fans who had managed to watch the game in the sweltering heat of Bangkok, Thailand, were calling for the dismissal of the team's manager after such an acute embarrassment.
15. Switzerland 1-0 Spain, 2010, FIFA World Cup
Puyol, Iniesta, Xavi, Torres, Villa. Five of the world's greatest players. None were able to prevent Switzerland grabbing their 30 seconds of fame last summer with a smash-and-grab 1-0 win in the World Cup encounter at the Moses Mahbida stadium.
Gelson Fernandes has certainly scored better goals than his 52nd-minute effort but this will be the only one he ever scores on such a big stage to cause such a great commotion in the press.
As they say, "the rest is history..."
14. Newcastle United 5-0 Manchester United, 1996, Premier League
United travelled to St. James's Park looking to prove that the Magpies were a flash-in-the-pan team who would achieve ephemeral success on the big stage.
Although that truth has since come to light, Newcastle's fans marvelled at the team's destruction of the champions, which warmed up a chilly night in the Northeast considerably.
The quality of the goals scored by David Ginola (second) and Philippe Albert (fifth) matched the scale of this upset. The other three goalscorers were Darren Peacock, Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer.
13. Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United, 2010, F.A. Cup
Simon Grayson's Leeds United caused one of the biggest shocks in the history of the game by beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in January.
Not only was it a case of a team two leagues below the champions playing ambitious and entertaining football at an iconic stadium in a difficult environment, but also beating a team led upfront by Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney fairly.
12. Brazil 1-2 Uruguay, 1950, FIFA World Cup
''El Maracanaco.'' Literally, the Maracana blow.
That is the term attributed to Uruguay's famous victory over South American rivals Brazil 60 years ago in Rio de Janeiro, home to the next final.
An astonishing 210,000 people packed into the iconic stadium anticipating a comfortable home victory for a team which had scored 13 goals in its first two matches of the tournament.
But Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia had other ideas, scoring two of the most famous goals in South American football to bring about a highly improbable and unpopular result.
11. Bolivia 6-1 Argentina, 2010, FIFA World Cup Qualifier
The surprise in the commentators' voice after Martins opened the scoring for the home team says it all. He surely ended up losing his voice on this particular day as La Paz witnessed one of the most extraordinary international football results.
''Every goal was like a stab in my heart,'' lamented Argentina's legendary coach Diego Maradona afterwards.
Despite altitude issues, the Bolivians thoroughly deserved to be lauded on the day as goals from Martins, Torrico, Da Rosa and three from Joaquin Botero rounded off a superb display in the fresh but scarce mountain air.
10. Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan, 2005, UEFA Champions League Final
A miracle in Istanbul? ''The Miracle of Istanbul'' as Liverpool turned water into wine to send their followers into footballing ecstasy with a second-half comeback that was defiant and gallant in the extreme.
Despite Paolo Maldini's first-minute goal and a Hernan Crespo brace, Steven Gerrard arched a header past Duda into the top corner, Vladimir Smicer smashed a long-range shot low past the Brazilian and then Xabi Alonso converted the follow-up chance to his fluffed penalty to cap a six-minute spell in which Liverpool breathlessly drew level.
Then came the Jerzy Dudek show as the Polish goalie made an outreageous double save in extra-time and blocked Andriy Shevchenko's penalty to secure a famous triumph.
9. Brazil 0-3 France, 1998, FIFA World Cup Final
France secured a memorable triumph in front of their home supporters at the Stade de France in 1998 as they trounced favourites Brazil by three goals in the final of the competition.
Perhaps distracted over reports that star striker Ronaldo had suffered a pre-match seizure, perhaps just comprehensively outplayed and overwhelmed, the South Americans never found their rhythm—even though Laurent Blanc missed the match through suspension and Marcel Desailly saw red with more than 20 minutes of the match remaining.
Zinedine Zidane scored two and Emmanuel Petit added a late third to seal an improbable win and set off wild celebrations just two days before Bastille Day in what turned out a great summer for France.
8. Italy 1-1 New Zealand, 2010, FIFA World Cup
''Is that it, Lippi?" ran the headline on the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Italy's failure to beat one of the smallest team's ever to qualify for the World Cup this year was a spectacular cock-up. Credit to New Zealand where it's due, however, as the All Whites finished the tournament unbeaten but just failed to qualify for the next round.
The hero here was Shane Smeltz, who opened the scoring in the seventh minute to put the Azzurri on the back foot.
7. North Korea 1-0 Italy, 1966, FIFA World Cup
A stunning result for the little-fancied Asians against the might of the Italians at Middlesbrough's old stadium, Ayresome Park, during the 1966 World Cup.
More than half of the Korean team played for just two domestic clubs and all came from a tiny league in an undeveloped football nation.
But 24-year-old Doo-Ik Pak was not phased and scored the winning goal in front of 18,000 disbelieving spectators.
6. PSV 10-0 Feyenoord, 2010, Eredivisie
Although they led the Dutch premier league at the time, nobody could have foreseen the result when PSV met rivals Feyenoord two months ago.
For although the visitors were down to ten men and two goals behind at the break, conceding eight goals in a half is unheard of. One goal every six minutes!
Brazilian forward Johnathan Reis, Balazs Dzsudzsak and Jeremain Lens were the biggest benefactors for the home team as Mario Been's team capitulated.
5. Northern Ireland 1-0 Spain, 1982, FIFA World Cup
A massive result for Northern Ireland in front of a hostile home crowd at Estadio Luis Casanova.
However, Gerry Armstrong pounced on captain and goalkeeper Luis Arconada's fumble to score the 100th goal of the tournament and win a difficult group against all the odds.
4. Bournemouth 2-0 Manchester United, 1984, F.A. Cup
''We don't get too many days like this in Bournemouth,'' chuckled manager Harry Redknapp as he oversaw a giant-killing of Ron Atkinson's Manchester United team.
''The champagne was out and we were all in the bath shouting and singing together,'' was the comment of home defender Everald La Ronde as his team outshone players such as Frank Stapleton, Lou Macari and Norman Whiteside on a sad day for United.
3. Alcorcon 4-1 Real Madrid,
Your eyes do not deceive you. Real Madrid were beaten by four goals...and not by Barcelona.
Instead, it was the Spanish Division B, Group II who inflicted the heavy defeat on Manuel Pellegrini's galacticos.
That a team which included Albiol, Guti, Raul and Van der Vaart was outplayed shows the size of this achievement by Alcorcon.
2. USA 1-0 England, 1950, FIFA World Cup
The ''Miracle on Grass'' is such a famous achievement that it has been turned since 1950 into both a book, The Game of Their Lives, and a film, The Miracle Match.
England boasted a post-war record in international football of 23-3-4. USA had conceded 45 goals in seven consecutive defeats.
But Joe Gaetjens dived headlong just before halftime to score the game's only goal and secure an incredible win against a big team.
1. Sweden 8-1 Belgium, 1924
In a tournament littered with high-scoring, one-sided matches—there was also a 9-0, two 7-0s, a 6-0 and twp 5-0s—Sweden produced the greatest shock football has ever seen with an 8-1 trouncing of Belgium.
This was a remarkable result given that Belgium were the reigning Olympic football champions.
Both Sven Rydell and Rudolf Kock scored hat-tricks during this amazing match in the annals of the greatest sport on Earth.
I hope you have enjoyed this slideshow—feel free to comment below!