Football

The World Cup's greatest shocks and biggest beatings

Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT) July 9, 2014
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Brazil 1-7 Germany (2014): A whole nation expected its team to at least reach the final on home soil ... but suffered the ultimate humiliation. Brazil, seeking a record-extending sixth World Cup crown, was swept asunder by a rampant Germany team which scored four goals in a mere six minutes to lead 5-0 before the half-hour mark of this totally one-sided semifinal. Oscar got a goal back but it was very much a case of too little too late. It was Brazil's worst World Cup defeat, surpassing 1998's 3-0 final setback against France. Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Brazil 1-2 Uruguay (1950): It's not the first time Brazil has suffered such disappointment hosting football's biggest tournament. Brazilian novelist Nelson Rodrigues wrote: "Our catastrophe, our Hiroshima was the defeat by Uruguay in 1950." While perhaps overstating things, it was a huge shock. In a round-robin format World Cup, Brazil took a 1-0 lead in the deciding match and appeared to be cruising to victory only to lose and leave a nation in mourning. STAFF/AFP/Getty Images
USA 1-0 England (1950): That same tournament -- in the same city where Germany hammered Brazil 64 years later -- a star-studded England team was expected to sweep aside an American lineup of mailmen and school teachers. Joe Gaetjens, a Haitian who was later thought to have been killed by Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier's death squad, scored the only goal to stun the football world. Keystone/Getty Images
West Germany 3-2 Hungary (1954): A Hungarian side led by Ferenc Puskas had trounced the Germans 8-3 in the group stage and so dominant were the "Mighty Magyars" 60 years ago they were expected to do the same in the final. But in the "Miracle in Bern" a team made up of amateurs from post-war-torn West Germany pulled off a monumental shock. Allsport/Hulton
Austria 7-5 Switzerland (1954): The result was not a shock in the sense of the outcome of this quarterfinal match, but merely in the scoreline. A record 12 goals were scored, including a hat-trick by Swiss forward Josef Hugi, to exceed the 11 scored by Brazil and Poland in 1938's 6-5 result. STAFF/AFP/Getty Images
North Korea 1-0 Italy (1966): North Korea's players were almost denied visas to compete at the 1966 World Cup, but they stunned Italy 1-0 with a goal from Pak Doo Ik and made it all the way to the quarterfinals. Dubbed "The Mystery Men" by the British media, due to the communist nation's secretive policies, the team's unlikely exploits were later turned into a documentary called "The Game of Our Lives." Central Press/Getty Images
Yugoslavia 9-0 Zaire (1974): It's the record winning margin in World Cup history, matching Hungary's scoreline over South Korea 20 years earlier. The Zaire players nearly did not take to the pitch after being told they would not be paid before then being threatened by the secret service of ruler Mobutu Sese Seko. Once on the pitch, a rout ensued.
Hungary scored 10 goals against El Salvador in 1982, but the Central American side did manage a consolation in reply.
STAFF/AFP/Getty Images
Argentina 0-1 Cameroon (1990): Argentina was defending champion and, inspired by Diego Maradona in midfield, was expected on the opening day of the tournament to ease past a team which had drawn all three previous matches on its only other World Cup appearance. But Cameroon pulled off a remarkable shock as forward Francois Omam-Biyick headed the only goal in Milan, while two of his teammates were sent off. STAFF/AFP/Getty Images
France 0-1 Senegal (2002): Much like Argentina in 1990, defending champion France got off to the worst possible start as the tournament's opening match ended in a shock defeat. It was the beginning of the end for Les Bleus. Awash with in-fighting, they bowed out after the group stage having not scored a single goal. KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images
United States 1-2 Iran (1998): Relations between the two nations were frayed and it was a contest billed as a global grudge match. The U.S. was hardly a footballing powerhouse but was expected to make light work of Iran -- which had never won a World Cup game, and has not done so since. It sparked a million people to take to the streets of the capital Tehran in celebration.
South Korea 2-1 Italy (2002): Co-host South Korea was not heavily fancied to do anything of note but, under the guidance of Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, made it to the semifinals by beating Spain in a penalty shootout. But its biggest achievement was in the previous round, knocking out Italy -- three times a World Cup champion, with another title to follow in 2006. Ahn Jung-Hwan sparked rapture in the stands with his golden goal -- but his contract was promptly canceled by Italian Serie A side Perugia, where he was on loan. CHOI JAE-KU/AFP/Getty Image
Australia 31-0 American Samoa (2001): Ok, so this wasn't at the World Cup but it was a qualifying match for the 2002 tournament. Australia, playing at home, was expected to win with ease -- but not quite this easily. American Samoa goalkeeper Nicky Salapu was forced to retrieve the ball from the back of his own net a record 31 times, with Archie Thompson netting an unprecedented 13 goals. Darren England/ALLSPORT