Top Ten World Cup qualifiers
As crunch time approaches in the countdown to Brazil, Sky Sports takes a look back at some memorable World Cup qualifiers.
Last Updated: 04/09/13 10:05am
England dominate our list having enjoyed plenty of pain as well as some joy, while Wales' hotly-debated clash is revisited.
Poland 2 England 0 - June 1973
England had amassed four points from a possible six heading into this June clash at Stadion Slaski. The nation seemed set for West Germany. However, Kazimierz Gorski's Poland had other ideas. Robert Gadocha rocked the Three Lions after just seven minutes before a Wlodzimierz Lubanski strike handed the home side a 2-0 lead. To compound England's misery, Alan Ball was dismissed in the latter stages to leave the country staring down the barrel of a gun loaded with failure.
England 1 Poland 1 - October 1973
England failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup held in West Germany. The Three Lions got their campaign off to a winning start versus Wales but were held against the Dragons at Wembley. The stalemate was then followed by a disappointing defeat in Poland. England knew they had to win their final game at home to the Poles. Sir Alf Ramsey's side found themselves a goal down when Jan Domarski struck but Allan Clarke levelled to restore some hope. However, a comeback was not to be as Poland goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, famously labelled a 'clown', kept England at bay.
Italy 2 England 0 - November 1976
England indeed failed to qualify for Argentina 1978. Goal difference ultimately cost them dear. In England's final game of the group, skippered by Kevin Keegan in Rome, Don Revie's men were undone. A draw would have been enough to book those tickets for South America, but Giancarlo Antognoni scored before half-time and then Roberto Bettega sealed the win for the Azzurri.
Wales 0 Scotland 2 - October 1977
Rather controversial affair this one as the two Home Nations locked horns. Joe Jordan was the hero or villain, depending on where you allegiances lie. With the scoreline level, Scotland were handed a lifeline, literally. When attacking in the Welsh penalty area they were awarded a spot-kick. The referee pointed to the spot after deeming that a Welshman had handled the ball, when actually Jordan had been the culprit. A massive call that paved the way for a 2-0 Scotland win and their qualification for Argentina 1978.
England 1 Hungary 0 - November 1981
Not a classic in terms of a goal-fest, but memorable in terms of the result's significance. Only a win would guarantee England qualification for the 1982 World Cup held in Spain, with Romania occupying second spot. The Three Lions faced group leaders Hungary at Wembley. The mood was tense before Paul Mariner's strike on 14 minutes handed England the lead. The goal proved the match-winner as Ron Greenwood's side held out.
Holland 2 England 0 - October 1993
Having been held to a 2-2 draw versus the Dutch at Wembley in their first meeting, England's bid to reach the world's major footballing tournament had been dented. The two sides met again in Rotterdam, with England knowing a victory would secure their place at USA 1994. A moment of much controversy occurred when Ronald Koeman hauled back David Platt but escaped without a red card. As irony would have it, Ronald Koeman then opened the scoring before Dennis Bergkamp made it 2-0. "Do I not like that!" indeed, England boss Graham Taylor.
Italy 0 England 0 - October 1997
Ah, the iconic image of a bloodied then-captain Paul Ince in Rome. This was a monumental game for Glenn Hoddle's charges, who needed just a point to seal their passage to France 1998. England put on a professional performance as they shut out their Italian opposition, who were forced to settle for a play-off berth. Angelo di Livio also received his marching orders at the Stadio Olimpico, while Ian Wright came close to snatching a Three Lions victory.
England 0 Germany 1 - October 2000
This was not the best way to kick-off a qualifying campaign and also mark the last England match under the famous twin towers of Wembley. The rain poured and so did the tears of many Three Lions supporters. Dietmar Hamann delivered the hammer blow when his low, long-range free-kick caught out David Seaman. England could not respond and the match ended in defeat to the country's arch-rivals. And then, the icing on the cake so to speak, manager Kevin Keegan resigned from his position. The loss hurt much, until...
Germany 1 England 5 - September 2001
...revenge was had. Germany prepared for this clash in the knowledge they had only ever lost one World Cup qualifier at home in their history. And all appeared to be going to plan when Carsten Jancker handed them the advantage. But a remarkable comeback ensued in Munich. Under the stewardship of Sven Goran Eriksson, Michael Owen netted a hat-trick, Emile Heskey scored while Steven Gerrard bagged his first goal for his country. The incredible win set England on their way for a tense final match.
England 2 Greece 2 - October 2001
Having demolished the Germans and then won their game in hand against Albania, England had the upper hand in Group 9. Their goal difference was superior and they had a seemingly simple home fixture against Greece. But Old Trafford was stunned when Angelos Charisteas gave the Greeks a shock lead. Teddy Sheringham restored parity two minutes later but Themis Nikolaidis' quick response silenced England. Cue a virtuoso display from captain David Beckham, who ran his socks off. And then the moment of ecstasy as Beckham trotted up to dispatch one of his trademark free-kicks that sent England to Asia, and saved their blushes.