10 Biggest Upsets in Football History: Moments That Stunned the World

10 Biggest Upsets in Football History

Football history is filled with thrilling moments and unexpected outcomes. From last-minute goals to come-from-behind victories, the sport has produced countless memorable upsets. But which are the biggest upsets in football history?

Prepare to be amazed by these shocking turn of events that shook the football world. From underdog teams defying all odds to powerhouse nations suffering embarrassing defeats, these upsets remind us that anything is possible on the pitch. In this article, we will delve into the greatest upsets in football history and relive the moments that left fans and experts alike in utter disbelief.

Join us as we recount these remarkable matches, analyze the factors that contributed to the upsets, and highlight the impact they had on the teams, players, and the sport as a whole. Whether you are a die-hard football fan or just enjoy witnessing unexpected outcomes, this article will take you on a journey through the most shocking upsets in football history.

Here are 10 Biggest Upsets in Football History

1. Argentina v Saudi Arabia, World Cup 2022

The World Cup 2022 opener between Argentina and Saudi Arabia was a shock result that no one could have predicted. After all the talk of Lionel Messi’s team winning, it looked like they would do just that after the early penalty goal, but Saudi Arabia had other ideas. The South American giants were unable to take control despite scoring 3 goals which were all cancelled due to offside decisions.

To make matters worse, Salman Al-Faraj leveled the scoring before captain Salem Al-Dawsari shocked the world by putting Saudi Arabia ahead shortly after. Despite their best efforts, Argentina were left frustrated in search of a way back into the game as Saudi Arabia recorded arguably the biggest World Cup upset of this century so far.

2. Senegal v France, World Cup 2002

The 2002 World Cup was a meeting between two very different sides. On the one hand, there was Senegal – an ambitious and talented African nation on the rise, but it had yet to establish itself among international football powerhouses. In its squad were mostly players from mid-table French clubs and they played with no fear in their first ever World Cup match against reigning champions France.

On the other side, Les Blues had squads scattered across Europe’s finest clubs and were headlined by superstars such as Patrick Viera, Claude Makelele, Marcel Desailly Zinedine Zidane, and Thierry Henry. This seemed like a classic case of David vs. Goliath.

And yet somehow Senegal would prevail 1-0 that day in Seoul– the only goal coming from Papa Bouba Diop in the 30th minute! Despite having their backs against the wall for most of the match, Senegal managed to keep their composure and defend valiantly enough to hold out for an iconic victory over France. To this day it stands as a monumental upset that would be remembered as one of Africa’s greatest sporting accomplishments.

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3. Tunisia v Colombia, World Cup 2018

This match was an unlikely upset for two reasons: firstly, Tunisia were huge underdogs coming into the tournament – having never advanced past the group stage in any of their previous World Cup appearances. Secondly, the North African nation had to face off against a star-studded Colombian side led by James Rodríguez and Radamel Falcao.

Despite the odds being stacked against them, Tunisia managed to pull off a massive 1-0 victory over Colombia in their opening match of the 2018 World Cup. After a scoreless first half, it was Ferjani Sassi who scored the lone goal of the match with a beautiful free kick in the 66th minute. The goal was enough to secure Tunisia the three points, and the match was eventually remembered as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

4. Cameroon v Argentina, World Cup 1990

Argentina was considered one of the tournament favorites when they faced off against Cameroon in their opening game of the 1990 World Cup – but no one could have predicted what was to come. With Diego Maradona and Claudio Caniggia both starting for La Albiceleste, it seemed like a sure thing that Argentina would take the three points.

But it was Cameroon who stunned the world by taking a 1-0 lead in the first half through Francois Omam-Biyik’s goal. Despite Argentina’s best efforts, they were unable to find an equalizer and Cameroon held on for a historic victory. It was the first time that an African team had ever beaten a South American team in the World Cup, and it served as a sign of things to come for African football.

5. South Korea v Italy, World Cup 2002

The South Korean team had made it to the World Cup before but had never really been considered serious contenders– at least not until their match against one of the tournament favorites, Italy. The Italians boasted a star-studded squad featuring Alessandro Nesta, Francesco Totti, and Christian Vieri, but it was the South Koreans who would steal the show.

Two goals from Seol Ki-Hyeon and one from Ahn Jung-Hwan were enough to overturn a first-half deficit and give South Korea a memorable 3-2 victory over Italy. It was the biggest upset of the tournament, and it sent shockwaves throughout the footballing world.

6. Greece v Portugal, European Championship 2004

Portugal was the favorite heading into the final of Euro 2004 but it was Greece who emerged victorious in one of the greatest upsets in football history. Despite Portugal boasting a talented squad of players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, and Luis Figo, Greece managed to take the lead early on with an Angelos Charisteas goal.

Despite Portugal’s best efforts, they were unable to find an equalizer and Greece held on for a remarkable 1-0 victory – a result which no one saw coming! It was the first major international trophy in Greece’s history and it stands as one of the biggest upsets in football history.

7. Japan Beats tops two European powers in 2022

When the draw for the 2022 FIFA World Cup was made, few people gave Japan much of a chance against two of Europe’s biggest powers: Germany and Spain. Historically, both teams had been incredibly successful in international football, including winning multiple world titles and taking up top spots in the global rankings. Japan were never considered to be rivals of either team in terms of quality or experience.

The opening game between the two European teams and Japan set out to determine which side would advance from group play. Just before half-time, Germany opened proceedings by scoring the first goal of the match. But as the second half began to unfold, it became clear that Japan was starting to cause more problems for their much-vaunted opponents.

Eventually, Ritsu Doan equalized for Japan late on setting up a thrilling finale – one which they ultimately triumphed through their disciplined defensive performance in the closing stages of the game! From then on it was clear: Japan was atop Group C ahead of both Germany and Spain; a result few expected at kick-off but one that will no doubt buoy Japanese spirits as they approach 2021 with hope and ambition beyond what anyone could have prophesied some weeks prior!

8. North Macedonia v Italy, World Cup Qualifying 2022

The tiny nation of North Macedonia pulled off one of the most unlikely victories in football history by toppling Italy, the current European Champions and three-time World Cup winners, in a qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup.

With a population of just 1.8 million, much of which is quickly declining, it was almost impossible to imagine a scenario where they could ever topple their more powerful and populous adversaries, yet that’s exactly what Aleksandar Trajkowski did with his injury-time stunner.

It really felt like watching two different worlds collide as North Macedonia battled back from an early deficit to draw level before Trajkowsi sealed a famous victory with virtually the last kick of the game. It was a result that will live long in the memory and deservedly so; not many countries can ever hope to replicate such an accomplishment against one of Europe’s powerhouses. This magical moment surely ranks among some of football’s greatest moments.

9. Cameroon v Argentina, Italia 90

This match-up between two of the more established nations in world football was expected to be a tight affair. While Argentina boasted an array of stars such as Diego Maradona and Claudio Caniggia, Cameroon had the advantage of playing on their home continent and with that, the support from their passionate fans.

The two teams were evenly matched until the 38th minute when Cameroon scored from a corner, with Francois Omam-Biyik heading past a helpless Sergio Goycochea in the Argentine goal. Maradona quickly leveled the game with a penalty but it was Cameroon who had the last laugh as Emmanuel Kunde grabbed an extra-time winner to send Argentina crashing out of Italia 90.

10. Greece v Portugal, Euro 2004

The 2004 European Championship was a tournament full of surprises, none more so than when Greece took on Portugal in their opening match. On paper, the game seemed like a formality; Portugal was a favorite given their impressive roster of stars and the fact that they were playing at home. But Greece had other ideas. Despite going into the game as underdogs, they managed to grind out a win thanks to an Angelos Charisteas header just past the hour mark.

This unlikely victory set the tone for Greece’s entire campaign; they went on to win every single group game before eventually beating Portugal in the final to secure one of the most unexpected triumphs in European football history.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Q: What are some of the biggest upsets in football history?

A: Some of the biggest upsets in football history include Manchester United’s stunning defeat against Barcelona in the 1999 Champions League semi-finals, South Korea’s unexpected victory over Italy in the 2002 World Cup, and Greece’s remarkable triumph over Portugal in the Euro 2004 final.

2. Q: How did Manchester City suffer one of the biggest shocks in footballing history?

A: In the 2012 Champions League, Manchester City faced a major shock when they were eliminated by relatively unknown French side AS Monaco in the round of 16. The match ended in a thrilling 6-6 draw on aggregate, with Monaco progressing on away goals.

3. Q: Can you tell me about the infamous “Golden Goal” upset?

A: The “Golden Goal” refers to the rule in international football where the first goal scored during extra-time determines the winner. One notable upset occurred in the Euro 2004 when Greece defeated defending champions France with a surprise golden goal by Angelos Charisteas.

4. Q: Did any non-league team cause a major shock in football history?

A: Yes, one of the most well-known upsets involving a non-league team occurred in the 2013-14 FA Cup, when Conference side Wrexham held Premier League giants Manchester United to a stunning 2-2 draw, forcing a replay which United eventually won.

5. Q: Which match involved a famous upset in the English league?

A: In the 1971-72 FA Cup fifth round, Southern League side Hereford United shocked top-flight team Newcastle United with a late winner in extra time. The winning goal, scored by Ronnie Radford, is considered one of the greatest goals and upsets in football history.


There have been some remarkable upsets in football history, from Manchester United’s defeat to Barcelona in the 1999 Champions League semi-finals to South Korea’s shock win over Italy at the 2002 World Cup. Other famous upsets include Greece’s triumph over Portugal in Euro 2004 and Hereford United’s famous win over Newcastle United in the 1971-72 FA Cup. Every fan of football can recall these memorable upsets and continue to be inspired by them.

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