England’s 6-2 win against Iran in their opening World Cup 2022 group match seemed especially high-scoring at football’s elite international tournament, but, remarkably, it doesn’t even make it into the top-ten of highest-scoring games ever at the tournament.
Indeed, there have been a surprising number of games featuring nine goals or more, with no tournament in the 21st century featuring in the top-ten of highest scoring World Cup games.
So, what actually is the World Cup game which has featured the most goals since the tournament’s inception in 1930? Seatpick have done the digging, uncovering all the goal-filled games from across the ages.
6= Yugoslavia 9-0 Zaire, 1974 World Cup
With Zaire 3-0 down within the first 20 minutes of this 1974 World Cup game, their manager Blagoje Vidinić (a Yugoslavian himself) substituted his goalkeeper. The replacement was just five foot and four inches tall, and within a minute of entering the pitch he had conceded.
Zaire – now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo – proceeded to concede a further five goals against the eastern Europeans, losing 9-0 in one of the heaviest defeats at a World Cup.
6= France 6-3 West Germany, 1958 World Cup
France and West Germany have played out some crucial World Cup matches, with their encounter in 1958 the origin of their tournament rivalry.
A dramatic third-place play-off Just Fontaine starred in this goal-filled game at the 1958 FIFA World Cup Sweden, registering four goals on a rather shoddy pitch.
6= West Germany 7-2 Turkey, 1954 World Cup
An initially competitive affair soon turned into West Germany running away with the game. The first half finished 3-1 with Turkey still well and truly capable of grabbing a result against their European rivals.
However, West Germany dominated the second half, bagging four goals as Turkey could only manage one in reply. Such was the fluidity of the West German’s attack, were they able to score two goals in the same minute – nabbing the ball off Turkey immediately from kick-off and going down their end to score.
6= Hungary 9-0 South Korea, 1954 World Cup
The ‘Magnificent Magyars’ were on top form at the 1954 World Cup, topping Group Two through hefty wins against South Korea and West Germany (more on that later). This 9-0 drubbing of South Korea became the largest-ever win in a World Cup game, too, bettered only be a result they managed 28 years later.
6= Argentina 6-3 Mexico, 1930 World Cup
At the inaugural World Cup in 1930, Argentina flew into a 3-0 lead within just 17 minutes, with Mexico pulling one back before the break. The South American side continued to dominate, though, setting a then record of most goals in a World Cup game as Guillermo Stabile bagged a hat-trick.
5. France 7-3 Paraguay, 1958 World Cup
Another game from a relatively early tournament, France’s meeting with Paraguay is the first on this list to break the double figure mark. Paraguay had a strong first half, scoring twice and going into half-time with the scores 2-2.
However, they crumbled in the second half, and Les Bleus punished them with a 7-3 defeat.
2= Hungary 10-1 El Salvador, 1982 World Cup
In joint-second place are three matches from three different World Cups, all featuring an impressive 11 goals.
Although the 1982 Hungarian squad was a far cry from the legendary 1954 team, they still produced one of the tournament’s most devastating victories with their defeat of El Salvador by ten goals to one. Despite this impressive result, a draw to Belgium and loss to Argentina meant that Hungary never made it out of the group stage in the tournament.
2= Hungary 8-3 West Germany, 1958 World Cup
In 1954, two European titans met each other on the pitch, Hungary and West Germany.
Though the West Germans were a strong side, they were emphatically defeated by the Hungarians in their encounter, likely due to West German coach Sepp Herberger playing a squad made up mostly of reserves. Hungary’s ‘Golden Team’, fresh off a 9-0 victory over South Korea, beat West Germany by 8 goals to 3.
The two both qualified from their group and met again in the World Cup final – this time, however, with legendary captain Ferenc Puskás injured, Hungary lost to West Germany in one of the tournament’s most controversial upsets.
2= Brazil 6-5 Poland, 1938 World Cup
The oldest of the three is from the 1938 contest, and is remembered both as Poland’s first match in a World Cup and as Brazil’s highest-scoring match in a World Cup to date. The Poles put up a brave fight, but in the end it was the South American nation which narrowly won by 6 goals to 5.
1. Austria 7-5 Switzerland, 1954 World Cup
With a whopping 12 goals, Austria’s 1954 clash against neighbours Switzerland is the highest scoring game in the history of the World Cup.
The record-breaking encounter has become known as ‘Hitzechlacht von Lausanne’ (‘The Hot Battle of Lausanne’), due to the extreme temperatures which players had to play under 40°C.
Switzerland took a dominant early lead, scoring three goals in four minutes in a sensational opening to a quarter-final encounter. Remarkably, however, Austria managed to bounce back from this hammering with five goals of their own – all within the first half.
The rest of the match featured another two goals from the Swiss and Austrians apiece, finishing with a surreal scoreline of Austria 7, Switzerland 5.