If you have been following football for any length of time, you’ll have identified which scorelines are your favourites.
We’re not talking about the best results in football, but rather the best scorelines. The numbers which make you think “this must have been a great game”, regardless of who was playing.
This is because football isn’t always just about quality. Sometimes we can fall back on narrative, humiliation and just plain stupidity when trying to put our finger on what it is we really want from the support. And so, without further ado…
A complete and utter humiliation is a good scoreline, but it’s not always the best. A five-goal margin is about the limit we can expect a nominally good team to lose by – think Real Madrid’s loss at Barcelona in 2010, or Philippe Albert capping off Newcastle’s win over Man Utd with that delightful chip.
Any more, and you’re often dealing with a complete mismatch, and it often just starts to get boring, but five is the perfect number for a team not only unused to losing by this sort of margin but also unused to losing full stop.
7. 1-0, where the winning team has had only one shot
The one-nil scoreline is often associated with some of the worst games, where a late strike puts us out of our misery or, worse still, denies us a penalty shoot-out.
There is, however, a specific circumstance in which it goes from being the worst to close to the best. Home team has 25 or more shots, but fails to score. Away team has just one, which finds the net – the later, the better. The only way to improve the situation is for the losing team to have a man sent off, preferably for protesting the decisive goal.
A rare example of a scoreline where the order of goals doesn’t even matter – you know it’s a cracker, where both teams have decided to forego defence, midfield or both.
A comeback from 3-0 or even 3-1 behind? Fantastic. A game that looks set to end 3-3 only for one team to fire home two late goals? Cracking. A 5-0 lead pegged back to the point the winning team starts to visibly panic? Still well worth watching.
A final score of 5-3 means one goal every 11 or so minutes – it doesn’t even matter if the goals are bad!
5. 4-4 from 4-0 down
Some might think this is even better than coming back from 3-0 down to win. It’s not, but it’s a nice thought.
Having no outright winner is bad, but having someone to laugh at? Extremely good.
4. 2-1, where it’s 0-1 going into the final minute
Yes, the 1999 Champions League final might get talked about a bit too much, but there’s a reason for that beyond “Man Utd fans don’t know when to shut up”.
For one team to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and for the other to go in the opposite direction, tells us all we need to know about the highs and lows of football. Whether it’s the Champions League final or just a regular mid-season game in the National League, this is the kind of scoreline that will stay with you for a long, long time.
3. A come-from-behind 4-3
Preferably one where the winning team either (a) trailed 3-0 at one point in the game or (b) trailed on three separate occasions, but it doesn’t matter all that much. Indeed, a team trailing 3-0, pulling it back to 3-3 and then losing might be just as good.
The beauty of the sport comes from the fact that a single goal can be hugely valuable or completely useless, depending entirely on the circumstances in which it is scored. If you’ve put your team 3-0 up, only to then go on to lose, it’s not one you’ll be boasting about down the pub.
2. A 6-6 draw
Until we see a 7-7 in the wild, this will always be up there.
1. A penalty shootout where it gets down to the goalkeepers