Biggest Wins in Men’s International Football – Ranking The Highest Scoring Matches of All Time

On 18th November 2023, France walloped minnows Gibraltar 14-0 in one of the most one-sided matches in the history of men’s international football. The sides are 196 places apart in the latest FIFA World Rankings (with France ranked as the second-best side on the planet at the time of writing), and the match stats reflected that: France had 39 shots at goals… Gibraltar didn’t muster a single shot and didn’t even win a corner!

There’s no doubt France’s win (their biggest ever) was eye-catching, but it falls significantly short of the biggest-ever wins in men’s international football. So let’s take a look at the most lopsided international matches that surpass Les Bleus’ hammering of Gibraltar.

All-time Top 10 Champions League/European Cup Goalscorers

Match Result Date Competition
Australia 31-0 American Samoa 11 Apr 2001 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
Tahiti 30-0 Cook Islands* 13 Sep 1971 1971 South Pacific Games
Australia 22-0 Tonga 9 Apr 2001 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
North Korea 21-0 Guam 11 Mar 2005 2005 EAFF East Asian Football Championship
Kuwait 20-0 Bhutan 14 Feb 2000 2000 AFC Asian Cup qualification
Iran 19-0 Guam 24 Nov 2000 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification

*Note that when this match took place, neither side was a FIFA member.

There was clearly something in the footballing air at the start of the millennium with four of the top six biggest wins coming in 2000 or 2001. It’s interesting to see so many Pacific Island nations featured, who are part of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), which is understandable due to the often very small populations and the fact that many arrived relatively late to the sport.

It’s fair to suggest that the OFC is not the strongest confederation around… well, let’s be blunt: it’s the weakest. It only formed in 1966, so it’s long been playing catch-up when compared to the likes of UEFA (established in 1954) or the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) which was established way back in 1916. But even so, at the time of writing, not a single one of the OFC-affiliated national sides is ranked in the top 100 by FIFA (though this is partly because Australia jumped ship to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) a few years ago to help them qualify for the World Cup more regularly).

Now let’s take a more detailed look at the top three biggest wins in men’s international football.

Australia 31-0 American Samoa

The biggest win ever in men’s international football (at a senior level) came on 11th April 2001 when Australia obliterated American Samoa 31-0. Remarkably (as we discuss below), this world record win came just two days after the Socceroos had set a new world record (between FIFA member nations) by thrashing Tonga 22-0. As such, the Aussies were clearly in red-hot form. But then the standard of the opposition was not exactly from the top drawer of world football.

American Samoa’s cause wasn’t helped by many of their side having passport/visa issues and it turned out only one player from the originally planned senior squad was able to play… though given that it was their goalkeeper, he’ll probably have wished he hadn’t! Many of the American Samoa team that took to the field had been promoted from their youth system and – with three players called up from the under-15s – the average age of their starting line-up was just 18.

It’s not often you hear complaints from the winning side of any game, especially not from a player who has scored loads of goals. But after the game, the Aussies’ Archie Thompson (who had netted an outstanding world record haul of 13 goals!) questioned whether such games should even take place (and indeed it led to preliminary rounds in the OFC region to avoid such mismatches in the future). Interestingly, American Samoa held out for a full 10 minutes before the Aussies got the breakthrough… but then the floodgates well and truly opened, and the Socceroos made footballing history.

It was Australia’s Con Boutsianis who opened the scoring with the first of his three goals in the game. As well as Thompson’s ludicrous total of 13 goals, David Zdrilic (who later played for Walsall and Aberdeen) scored eight goals, with Tony Popovic, Aurelio Vidmar and Simon Colosimo each bagging braces and substitute Fausto De Amicis getting the other.

Tahiti 30-0 Cook Islands

It was 30 years before Australia’s massive win that Tahiti recorded their own blistering victory when they demolished their (relatively) near neighbours Cook Islands 30-0. This match isn’t listed in many lists of the biggest international football wins on account of neither side being a FIFA member at the time, but we thought we’d include it to give Tahiti their moment in the limelight. For context, at the time of writing, Tahiti are ranked 163rd in the world by FIFA and Cook Islands are not too far behind at 185th. But back in 1971, in this match at least, the teams were miles apart.

To be fair to Cook Islands, the 1971 South Pacific Games was their first international tournament, and their first international match was only two days before this game. Things didn’t go too well in that game either, but at least they got on the scoresheet (despite losing 16-1 to Papua New Guinea). They rounded off the tournament two days after the Tahiti defeat with a relatively decent (under the circumstances) 15-1 loss to Fiji. To date, Cook Islands have never beaten Tahiti, though they came close to getting a draw in the 2007 South Pacific Games when they ended up on the wrong side of a narrow 1-0 defeat.

Australia 22-0 Tonga

As mentioned, this record-breaking victory came just two days before the Aussies made a 22-0 scoreline look rather modest. And though this wasn’t as big a victory as the aforementioned Tahiti triumph, at the time it was the biggest ever in a match between two FIFA members. This is the only match between Australia and Tonga, and the Tongans will be in no hurry to face the Socceroos again after this rather humiliating hammering.

The top scorers for Australia in this one were John Aloisi (with six goals) and Kevin Muscat (with four, three of which were penalties). Muscat would go on to play for Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Rangers (with whom he won the Scottish treble) and Millwall, while John Aloisi played for Portsmouth, Coventry City and various European sides. Both players were rested for the next game (and perhaps if they hadn’t been, American Samoa could have faced an even more troublesome match!).

Related Posts