25 Biggest Victories in European Championship Qualifying
With England taking on the continent’s traditional whipping boys San Marino in their Euro 2016 Group E qualifier at Wembley Stadium on Thursday night, we take a look back at some of the most comprehensive mismatches of the past 56 years on the road to the tournament.
And these are the 25 biggest victories in European Championship qualifying in that time…
Romania 7-0 Liechtenstein, September 1998
The writing was very much on the wall right from the very off for little Liechtenstein on the road to the 2000 UEFA European Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands, following an opening-night thrashing at the hands of Romania in Group 7 in September 1999.
And while it may have taken the home team 18 minutes before then Galatasaray defender Gheorghe Popescu opened the scoring at the Stadionul Steaua, from that point on the goals came thick and fast in Bucharest.
In fact, striker Adrian Ilie even managed to score a 21-minute hat-trick, while the likes of Catalin Munteanu, Viorel Moldovan and an Modestus Haas own goal completed the scoring for a Romania side who would go on to win their section ahead of much-fancied Portugal.
Portugal 7-0 Azerbaijan, March 1999
Portugal were to serve notice of their intentions at Euro 2000 by finding the back of the net seven times against Azerbaijan during qualification for the tournament in the Low Countries.
However, only 14,650 spectators actually turned up to watch the goals fly in that night at the Estadio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes, with both strikers Joao Pinto and Pauleta managing to net doubles along the way.
Meanwhile, there were also strikes by Ricardo Sa Pinto, Paulo Madeira and Sergio Conceicao as the home side geared up for a UEFA European Championship in which they would go on to reach the semi-finals at the following year.
Austria 7-0 San Marino, April 1999
Lowly San Marino made the trip to then named Arnold Schwarzenegger-Stadion to take on Austria in April 1999, having lost their previous Group 6 qualifier at home to Spain by a score of 6-0.
However, the visitors—who would go to finish with a goal difference of -43 after eight matches—were once again spared no mercy as their hosts found the target on seven occasions in Graz, with prolific Sturm Graz striker Ivica Vastic scoring a hat-trick.
Meanwhile, there were also two goals for Christian Mayrleb, before Martin Amerhauser and an Andreas Herzog spot-kick completed the scoring on the night.
Czech Republic 7-0 San Marino, October 2006
Poor old San Marino had already been on the end of the biggest-ever qualifying defeat in UEFA European Championship history— a 13-0 loss at the hands of Germany—in their previous Group D encounter when they travelled to face the Czech Republic in October 2006.
However, while the visitors at least managed to avoid another record-breaking defeat at the U Nisy Stadion, they were still thrashed 7-0 by the home side, who would actually go on to top the section ahead of favourites Germany.
And on the night in Liberec, there were doubles for the little-and-large strikeforce of Milan Baros and Jan Koller, with Marek Kulic, Jan Polak and David Jarolim also hitting the target.
Croatia 7-0 Andorra, October 2006
Croatia surprised many people by winning Group E ahead of favourites England and Russia while managing to qualify for Euro 2008, with Slaven Bilic’s men recording their joint-biggest win in their history along the way against Andorra.
The Balkan nation played host to the minnows at the intimidating Maksimir Stadium in October 2006, and their resounding triumph was achieved on the back of four goals from frontman Mladen Petric within the opening 50 minutes in Zagreb.
And even though the home side were missing stellar talents of the quality of Darijo Srna, Ivica Olic, Milan Rapaic and Goran Sablic on the night, they still netted three more times through Ivan Klasnic, Bosko Balaban and Luka Modric.
Slovakia 7-0 San Marino, October 2007
Group D on the road to the 2008 UEFA European Championship in Austria and Switzerland contained any number of one-sided contests, almost all of which involved hapless San Marino, whose goal difference come the end of the 12-match qualifying campaign was -55.
And one of those particularly heavy losses came on a trip to face Slovakia in Dubnica in October 2007, when the visitors once again shipped seven goals at the Stadion Zimny, with the home side having six different goalscorers on the night.
Brilliant playmaker Marek Hamsik got proceedings underway midway through the first half, before Stanislav Sestak grabbed his first of two goals, while Marek Sapara, Martin Skrtel, Filip Holosko and Jan Durica—from the penalty spot—were also all on target.
Greece 8-1 Finland, October 1978
Greece made it to Euro 80 after winning a tightly contested Group 6 that also featured the likes of Hungary, Finland and the Soviet Union, although they needed to recover from a 3-0 loss in Helsinki in their opening fixture to make it to the tournament in Italy.
However, the Greeks enacted revenge for that defeat by thrashing the Finns 8-1 in the return encounter in Athens in October 1978, in a match in which striker Thomas Mavros scored a hat-trick.
And there were also two goals apiece for both Takis Nikoloudis and Georgios Delikaris, while Maik Galakos rounded off the scoring late on at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium.
Luxembourg 0-8 Netherlands, November 1971
Incredibly, the great Netherlands side of the '70s did not actually qualify for the first tournament to be staged in that decade—the 1972 UEFA European Championship—after only finishing as runners-up to Yugoslavia in Group 7.
But at least the Oranje did manage to end their campaign in style by winning 8-0 “away”—the tie was actually played in Eindhoven—to last-placed Luxembourg in November 1971, with that year’s Ballon d’Or winner Johan Cruyff (pictured) scoring a hat-trick by the hour-mark.
Oh, and there were also goals for Piet Keizer, Theo Pahlplatz, Barry Hulshoff, Oekie Hoekema and Rinus Israel on the night at the Philips Stadion.
West Germany 8-0 Malta, February 1976
West Germany had all but qualified for the 1976 UEFA European Championship when lowly Malta visited the raucous Westfalenstadion for the final Group 8 fixture, with the hosts only needing to avoid a heavy defeat in order to ensure their safe passage to Yugoslavia.
However, considering that the visitors had already lost their two other matches on the road by an aggregate scoreline of 9-0, the home side were considered to be more than strong favourites to edge out rivals Greece in the battle to seal top spot in the section.
And that is exactly what happened in Dortmund, as the European and world champions went for the kill right from the kick-off, scoring after just five minutes through the first of forward Ronald Worm’s two goals.
Meanwhile, there was also a brace for Jupp Heynckes (pictured), and further strikes added via an Erich Beer penalty, Berti Vogts and Bernd Holzenbein.
West Germany 8-0 Malta, February 1980
West Germany sent out a warning to the rest of the continent in February 1980 about their threat at the upcoming UEFA European Championship after overcoming Group 7 minnows Malta 8-0 in their final qualifier before the competition got underway later that year.
The visitors had already lost 7-0 on the road to Wales in their very first match, so it came as no great surprise when the eventual winners of the section went one better in Bremen than the Dragons had managed some 18 months earlier.
And on the night at the Weserstadion, there were braces for both Klaus Allofs and Klaus Fischer, with further strikes added by Walter Kelsch, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (above video), as well as a Rainer Bonhof penalty and a John Holland own goal.
Republic of Ireland 8-0 Malta, November 1983
The Republic of Ireland were still looking to qualify for the finals of a major tournament for the very first time in their history when drawn alongside the likes of Spain, the Netherlands, Iceland and Malta on the road to Euro 84 in France.
And while the Emerald Isle may have failed to accomplish that feat come the end of the campaign, Eoin Hand’s team did at least manage to overcome minnows Malta 8-0 on their way to finishing third in the section.
Just for the record, the scorers that night at Dalymount Park in November 1983 were Mark Lawrenson and Kevin Sheedy, who both netted doubles, while Frank Stapleton, Kevin O'Callaghan, Liam Brady and Gerry Daly also all found the target in Dublin.
England 8-0 Turkey, October 1987
Bobby Robson’s England actually entered their Euro 88 qualifier against Turkey at Wembley Stadium in October 1987 under some pressure having only managed a disappointing goalless draw with their opponents in their previous Group 4 contest.
Now back in those days, the visitors were not the same slick, confident outfit who subsequently went on to reach the semi-finals at both the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2008 UEFA European Championship, so anything other than a big win over the Turks and Robson may have been looking nervously over his shoulder.
But in the end, the Three Lions boss had little to worry about, as the home team took care of business with some ease by scoring four times in each half.
And that included a hat-trick for striker Gary Lineker, two from John Barnes, as well as further strikes by skipper Bryan Robson, Peter Beardsley and Neil Webb at the home of football.
Malta 0-8 Netherlands, December 1990
The Netherlands were determined to defend the UEFA European Championship crown that they had won for the very first time in their history at Euro 88 when the next tournament took place in Sweden in the summer of 1992.
Rinus Michels and Co. took a giant step towards winning Group 6 ahead of Portugal by destroying lowly Malta 8-0 on the road in December 1990, in a match in which prolific striker Marco van Basten netted an incredible five times on the night.
And in between all of the AC Milan hitman’s goals at the Ta' Qali Stadium, midfielder Aron Winter and then Ajax forward Dennis Bergkamp, with a second-half double, both managed to get their names on the scoresheet as well.
Portugal 8-0 Liechtenstein, December 1994
Portugal would go on to make quite an impression at the 1996 UEFA European Championship in England after topping Group 6 in qualifying, but that would have come as no surprise to anyone who had watched them destroy Liechtenstein 18 months earlier.
The visitors, who ended the 10-game campaign with just one point to their name and a -39 goal difference, made the worst possible start in the Portuguese capital after striker Domingos Paciencia scored twice within the opening 11 minutes.
And there was also a brace late on for fellow front man Paulo Alves, in between which Oceano da Cruz, Joao Domingos Pinto, Fernando Couto and Antonio Folha were all on target at the Estadio da Luz.
Portugal 8-0 Liechtenstein, June 1999
Portugal had already netted seven times at home to Group 7 whipping boys Azerbaijan just a few months earlier, when the section’s other minnows, Liechtenstein, arrived in Coimbra in June 1999 for a Euro 2000 qualifier.
And on this occasion, the home side managed to go one better by scoring eight at the Estadio Cidade de Coimbra against opponents who would go on to finish the 10-match campaign with a goal difference of -37.
Incredibly, though, there only three different goalscorers on the night, as both diminutive frontmen Joao Pinto and Ricardo Sa Pinto grabbed hat-tricks inside the opening 67 minutes of the contest, while attacking midfielder Rui Costa was also on target twice late on.
Israel 8-0 San Marino, September 1999
San Marino’s three previous results heading into their Euro 2000 Group 6 qualifier against Israel in Tel Aviv in September 1999 read 9-0, 7-0, 0-6, meaning that the home crowd that night were expecting an avalanche of goals from their side.
And the 25,078 fans at the Ramat Gan Stadium were not to be disappointed either, as Yossi Benayoun (pictured) started the scoring on his way to a hat-trick, while Haim Revivo netted a brace and Alon Mizrahi, Nir Sivilia and Yossi Abukasis also found the target.
Hungary 8-0 San Marino, October 2010
There is a reason why San Marino ended up with a –53 goal difference during qualification for Euro 2012, and that is because the second-smallest member of European football’s governing body suffered three particularly heavy defeats during their Group E campaign.
And one of those thrashings came in an 8-0 loss to Hungary at the Stadium Puskas Ferenc in October 2010, when striker Adam Szalai netted a 48-minute hat-trick, while fellow frontman Gergely Rudolf was also on hand to score two goals in Budapest.
Meanwhile, the visitors’ cause was not helped when they found themselves reduced to 10 men late on after Carlo Valentini was dismissed while giving away the penalty from which Zoltan Gera completed the scoring on the night for the home team.
Finland 8-0 San Marino, November 2010
San Marino had already been walloped 8-0 in Hungary when they made the trip to the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki to take on Finland in their Euro 2012 Group E qualifier in November 2010.
However, unfortunately for the visitors, they were also on the receiving end of another mauling as Finland registered their biggest-ever competitive victory, and this despite only leading 1-0 at half-time.
After the break, though, the home team stepped up a gear and simply overwhelmed their opponents, with forward Mikael Forssell grabbing a hat-trick inside 27 second-half minutes, while Kasper Hamalainen netted a double and substitutes Roni Porokara and Jari Litmanen also both got on the scoresheet.
England 9-0 Luxembourg, December 1982
Bobby Robson’s tenure as England boss got off to the worst possible start when the Three Lions failed to qualify for the 1984 UEFA European Championship in France, after they could only finish as runners-up to Denmark in Group 3.
And the only shining light for the new coach was the eye-catching performance his side put in against lowly Luxembourg in December 1982, with the home team scoring nine times without reply at Wembley Stadium as Watford striker Luther Blissett netted a hat-trick.
The other strikes were netted by Steve Coppell, Tony Woodcock, Glenn Hoddle, Phil Neal, and a Marcel Bossi own goal that opened the scoring, while Mark Chamberlain also marked his international debut for his country by getting his name on the scoresheet at the home of football.
Spain 9-0 Albania, December 1990
Spain may have won the previous two UEFA European Championships in 2008 and 2012, however, back in the early '90s La Roja were a far more inconsistent outfit who were capable of switching from the sublime to the ridiculous from one match to the next.
And that was the story of their Euro 92 qualifying campaign, with Luis Aragones’ men losing four of their seven games on the road to Sweden, while also managing to score nine without reply against an Albania side who would inevitably go on to finish bottom of Group 1.
On that occasion at the Benito Villamarin in Sevilla, deadly Real Madrid forward Emilio Butragueno netted four times, while fellow striker Carlos Munoz grabbed a brace and there were also goals for Guillermo Amor, Fernando Hierro and Jose Mari Bakero.
Spain 9-0 Austria, March 1999
Spain were drawn alongside the likes of Israel, Austria, Cyprus and San Marino in a less-than-testing-looking Group 6 as they attempted to qualify for Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands.
However, a shock 3-2 loss in Cyprus in their opening contest put La Roja under pressure, while they also then had to come from behind to win 2-1 in Israel, before entertaining Austria at the Mestalla.
Few, though, would have predicted such a resounding victory for the hosts, especially against a team that had made it to the FIFA World Cup finals in France just a year earlier.
But after Raul Gonzalez had opened the scoring after six minutes—the first of four goals for the Real Madrid man—the visitors collapsed as strikes from Ismael Urzaiz, a Fernando Hierro penalty and Fran Gonzalez, as well as an Arnold Wetl own goal, completed the rout.
France 10-0 Azerbaijan, September 1995
Believe it or not, but France were actually in danger of not qualifying for the 1996 UEFA European Championship in England after incredibly being held to goalless draws in four of their first five fixtures in Group 1.
All of which meant that Aime Jacquet’s star-studded outfit absolutely had to get the better of group whipping boys Azerbaijan when the two nations met in September 1995 at the Stade de l'Abbe-Deschamps in Auxerre.
Luckily for Les Bleus, however, everything finally seemed to click into place on the night, with the home team managing to net 10 times—with eight different scorers—including both Youri Djorkaeff and Frank Leboeuf with braces, as well as Marcel Desailly, Vincent Guerin, Reynald Pedros, Christophe Dugarry, Zinedine Zidane and Christophe Cocard.
Netherlands 11-0 San Marino, September 2011
Bert van Marwijk's side were in ominous form as they headed into their Euro 2012 qualifier against minnows San Marino in September 2011, with the Netherlands having won their previous six matches in a row in Group E leading up to the contest.
And with the visitors having already been hammered 8-0 in both Hungary and Finland prior to this clash at the Philips Stadion, it is fair to say that they travelled to Eindhoven more in hope than expectation of avoiding another heavy defeat.
But that is exactly what happened, as the hosts registered their biggest-ever victory thanks to four goals from frontman Robin van Persie, while both Wesley Sneijder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar netted braces, and Dirk Kuyt, John Heitinga and Georginio Wijnaldum added their own to the scoreline in what was the joint-largest winning margin at home in a UEFA European Championship qualifier.
Spain 12-1 Malta, December 1983
Spain topped Group 7 on their way to the 1984 UEFA European Championship, however, La Roja only qualified for the tournament in France after scoring more than second-placed Netherlands after both nations ended the campaign with a +16 goal difference.
In the end, however, it was the Spaniard’s 12-1 demolition of Malta at the Estadio Benito Villamarin in the final match to be played in the section in December 1983 that just saw them through to Euro 84 at the expense of the Oranje.
And on the night, Real Madrid striker Santillana and Real Betis frontman Hipolito Rincon each found the target four times to ease the host’s nerves in Seville, while Antonio Maceda also grabbed a brace, and both Manuel Sarabia and Juan Antonio Senor netted.
Oh, and just for the record, Spain’s win was not only the biggest-ever at home in qualifying for the Euros, but it was also the joint-largest margin of victory on home soil and the highest aggregate scoreline too.
San Marino 0-13 Germany, September 2006
Germany actually finished as runners-up in Group D on the road to the 2008 UEFA European Championship in Austria and Switzerland, with the Czech Republic surprisingly topping the section.
However, along the way Joachim Low’s men did manage to record the biggest-ever qualifying win in the history of the tournament after annihilating lowly San Marino 13-0 in Serravalle in September 2006.
Lukas Podolski started the carnage with his first of four strikes after 12 minutes, while Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Hitzlsperger and Miroslav Klose all grabbed doubles, and there were also goals for Michael Ballack, Manuel Friedrich and a Bernd Schneider penalty.