Yugoslavia 9-0 Zaire (1974)

Often perceived as the darkest day in African football history, Zaire’s shambolic performance at the 1974 World Cup was personified by this thrashing from Yugoslavia that even broke the scoreboard

Their tournament hadn’t started particularly disastrously, with a 2-0 loss against Scotland in a hard-fought opener, but inexperience on the world stage was exploited in their second match.

Fingers were pointed at Zaire’s Yugoslavian coach Blagoje Vidinic, who had inexplicably dropped star striker Mayanga Maku and made bizarre substitutions throughout the game. The true source of the dismal display seems to have developed from the promise of bonuses – a problem that would blight African teams in future tournaments.

“We had the erroneous belief that we’d be returning from the World Cup as millionaires,” defender Mwepu Ilunga told BBC Sport in 2002. “But we got back home without a penny in our pockets.” 

Before the tournament, Zaire president Mobutu Sese Seko had bought each member of the squad a car – but things turned sour after the heavy loss. “He sent his presidential guards to threaten us,” Ilunga continued. “They closed the hotel to all journalists and said that if we lost 4-0 to Brazil, none of us would be able to return home.”

Incredibly, they only lost 3-0 and returned home. Now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, they have never been back to the World Cup since. 

Borussia M’gladbach 12-0 Borussia Dortmund (1978) 

On the final day of the 1977/78 Bundesliga season, Borussia Monchengladbach had the chance to win the title if they could beat Cologne’s +10 goal difference.

Astonishingly they managed to score 12 times, but Cologne won the title anyway having scored five past St Pauli. For Dortmund, the repercussions were far more significant – Otto Rehhagel was immediately sacked, goalkeeper Peter Endrulat was sold and all of the players were fined between 2000 and 2,500 Deutsche Mark.

Allegations of match-fixing were investigated and eventually thrown out, but the humiliation lingered and the scoreline is still a German record to this day.  

Hungary 10-1 El Salvador (1982)

Hungary El Salvador

At the 1982 World Cup in Spain, El Salvador were the undisputed weaklings – and their opening match couldn’t have been much more of a disaster.

However, the most memorable moment of the game came when their striker Luis Ramirez Zapata scored a consolation on 64 minutes and launched into fervent celebration. It became an iconic moment of the tournament, and El Salvador respectfully held their own against Belgium (0-1) and Argentina (0-2) in their remaining group games.

The match has become something of a legend in Salvadoran culture, and in 2007 the country’s FA marked the 20th anniversary of the result with a friendly against Hungary. This time the score finished a much more even 2-2.

Manchester United 9-0 Ipswich (1995) 

Andy Cole Manchester United Ipswich

After three consecutive seasons in the top flight, Ipswich had continuously flirted with relegation and only avoided the drop by a point the previous campaign. Their fate was eventual sealed in 1994/95, however, with this dismal display at Old Trafford contributing to the Tractor Boys’ downfall.

Amazingly, the Suffolk side had beaten United 3-2 at Portman Road earlier in the season, but the then-champions were out for revenge in this game as Andy Cole bagged five of the nine goals in this record Premier League victory. Ipswich finished bottom of the league, while poor goalkeeper Craig Forrest went on to concede seven more goals at Old Trafford in a West Ham shirt five years later.

Newcastle 8-0 Sheffield Wednesday (1999)

After seven games of the 1999/2000 campaign, neither of these sides had won and propped up the rest at the bottom of the table. Sheffield Wednesday, therefore, went to St James’ Park in the hope of getting off the mark against the team they finished one place above the season before.

But it wasn’t to be – or anything close to it. Newcastle were 4-0 up by the break thanks to Alan Shearer’s first-half hat-trick, and added another four in the second half as the Geordie favourite took his personal tally to five.

It proved an omen: the Owls endured a lifeless season of struggle and were relegated alongside Watford and Wimbledon. They recorded a 4-0 win over Leicester on the final day, but haven’t been seen in the Premier League since.  

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