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ENGLAND’S MEMORABLE OPENING WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
1962 World Cup Qualifying Campaign
Luxembourg 0 England 9 - October 1960
Six years before Sir Alf Ramsey led the Three Lions to World Cup glory, England faced a trip to minnows Luxembourg as they began the long road to reach the 1962 finals in Chile.
Managed by Walter Winterbottom and captained by Fulham legend Johnny Haynes, England ran riot in the Municipal Stadium in front of 5,500 supporters.
Bobby Charlton bagged a brace in the opening seven minutes before 20-year-old Chelsea youngster Jimmy Greaves and Tottenham’s Bobby Smith netted to ensure England headed for half-time with a commanding 4-0 lead.
There was no respite for Luxembourg after the interval as Smith grabbed his second before skipper Haynes also got himself on the score sheet on the hour.
Charlton completed his hat-trick shortly after but he wasn’t the only man to achieve the feat during the 90 minutes, as Greaves struck twice more late on to seal a resounding victory.
1986 World Cup Qualifying Campaign
England 5 Finland 0 – October 1984
It was a campaign that was to end with the ‘Hand of God’ and one of the greatest individual goals of all time by the incomparable Diego Maradona at the quarter-finals stage of Mexico 86.
The journey to the Estadio Azteca began almost two years before, as England got off to a perfect start against Finland at Wembley.
Gary Lineker, who would go on to become the Golden Boot winner at the tournament, had only made his England bow earlier that year and it was the strike partnership of Mark Hateley and Tony Woodcock who would get the chance to stake their claims.
They didn’t disappoint as Hateley scored either side of the break, with Woodcock also finding the net as the hosts quickly established a three-goal lead.
There were also second-half goals for captain Bryan Robson and Arsenal full-back Kenny Sansom as England completed a comfortable win.
1998 World Cup Qualifying Campaign
Moldova 0 England 3 – September 1996
It has been 20 years since Glenn Hoddle began his tenure as head coach of the national team as England began the road to France 98, with memories of Euro 96 still in the air.
Hoddle made five changes from the side that suffered an agonising semi-final defeat to eventual champions Germany, as Manchester United youngster David Beckham made his international debut.
Nick Barmby and Paul Gascoigne scored in quick succession in the first-half in front of 9,500 fans in Kishinev.
New captain Alan Shearer then celebrated his appointment with a goal shortly after the hour as England started their campaign with a 3-0 win.
England would eventually qualify via a heroic performance against Italy in Rome, as a goalless draw ensured their passage as group winners.
Watch the Moldova v England 1996 memorable opening World Cup Qualifier here.
2002 World Cup Qualifying Campaign
England 0 Germany 1 – October 2000
It was a game more famous for the occasion than the quality of football on display, as the final England game at the old Wembley ended in a 1-0 defeat to rivals Germany.
An early goal from midfielder Dietmar Hamann settled a drab encounter on a wet and frustrating afternoon, as Germany exacted revenge following England’s 1-0 win in the group stages of Euro 2000.
The home side’s attacking prowess of Michael Owen, Andy Cole, Paul Scholes and David Beckham was thwarted by a stubborn Germany backline, which was marshalled by the superb Jens Nowotny and Thomas Linke.
The defeat brought an end to Kevin Keegan’s reign as manager, with Sven Goran Eriksson eventually stepping into the hot seat to lead England to Japan and South Korea for the 2002 finals.
England Opening World Cup Qualifiers -
- 1950 Wales 1 England 4
- 1954 Wales 1 England 4
- 1958 England 5 Denmark 2
- 1962 Luxembourg 0 England 9
- 1966 Qualified as hosts
- 1970 Qualified as holders
- 1974 Wales 0 England 1*
- 1978 Finland 1 England 4*
- 1982 England 4 Hungary 0
- 1986 England 5 Finland 0
- 1990 England 0 Sweden 0
- 1994 England 1 Norway 1*
- 1998 Moldova 0 England 3
- 2002 England 0 Germany 1
- 2006 Austria 2 England 2
- 2010 Andorra 0 England 2
- 2014 Moldova 0 England 5
*Did not qualify