The 5 highest scoring World Cup finals of all time

There have been plenty of high-scoring finals in the history of the World Cup, with fans hoping for a similar situation in the 2022 final in Qatar.

A few too many goalless draws may put some doubt into that hope, but the somewhat safe football of the group stages will soon be brushed aside by the end-to-end, entertaining football that is so often associated with the knockout stages.

There has been just one goalless draw in the history of World Cup finals, with Brazil and Italy playing out a 0-0 draw in the US in 1994, with the South Americans going on to win the match 3-2 on penalties.

Fortunately, there have been goals galore on the biggest stage of them all over the years. But which have been the highest scoring World Cup finals?

The 5 highest scoring World Cup finals of all time

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Uruguay 4-2 Argentina (1930)

The first-ever World Cup final certainly didn’t disappoint, and with six goals scored is among the top five highest scoring finals of all time. It set the standard for tournaments to come, with hosts Uruguay defeating their South American counterparts Argentina 4-2 in Montevideo.

It was the Argentines who went in at the break ahead, leading 2-1 thanks to goals from Carlos Peucelle and Guillermo Stabile, having gone behind to Pablo Dorado’s opener just 12 minutes into the match.

But second-half goals from Pedro Cea, Santos Iriarte and Hector Castro turned the game on its head, with Uruguay lifting the trophy to rapturous applause from their home supporters, one of six occasions that the World Cup has been won on home soil.

Italy 4-2 Hungary (1938)

The 1930 final scoreline was repeated just eight years later, with defending champions Italy edging past Hungary 4-2. Italy were full of confidence on the back of their 1934 World Cup success in Rome, and were now looking ruthless going into the final in Paris.

Gino Colaussi proved just how up for it the Italians were with the opener after just six minutes, but they were pegged back two minutes later as Pal Titkos found an equaliser for Hungary. But Silvio Piola and another from Colaussi ensured Italy had a comfortable 3-1 lead at the break.

They were, however, given a scare in the 70th minute as Hungary captain Gyorgy Sarosi made it 3-2, but it didn’t take long for Piola to grab his second and Italy’s fourth, securing a memorable title defence for the Italians. The 1934 and 1938 successes for Italy represents one of just two times that the World Cup has been defended, with Brazil also achieving the feat in 1958 and 1962.

England 4-2 West Germany (1966)

England lifted their one and only World Cup trophy on home soil in 1966, defeating West Germany 4-2 in dramatic fashion at Wembley Stadium. It wasn’t all joy and ecstasy from the get-go, however, with Helmut Muller putting West Germany ahead 12 minutes into the match.

But six minutes later, Geoff Hurst gave the home fans a reason to cheer as he levelled the scores. Martin Peters then thought he was the England hero with his strike 12 minutes from time, but the celebrations were put to an abrupt halt through Wolfgang Weber’s late equaliser. Hurst was, however, the hero this time around, netting a double in extra time to score the first and only World Cup final hat-trick to date.

It was just the second time the final of the major tournament had been won in extra time, following on from Italy’s win in 1934. Over 90,000 people packed into Wembley to watch in person, with a further 32.3 million reportedly watching on from home, a record for UK TV that reportedly still stands to this day.

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France 4-2 Croatia (2018)

Just four years ago, there were six goals smashed in as France defeated Croatia 4-2 in a thrilling encounter in Russia. Luzhniki Stadium played host to the entertaining game, with Les Bleus lifting just their second World Cup title, a full two decades after winning their first.

They had, of course, finished as runners-up in between that time, losing out to Italy on penalties in Germany in 2006. But the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann were on hand to ensure that didn’t happen in Moscow, with Paul Pogba joining the attacking duo on the scoresheet. 

Mario Mandzukic had opened the scoring for France with an own goal, before getting one for his own nation, after his teammate Ivan Perisic had netted in the first half. Mandzukic has since retired, but Perisic and indeed French stars Griezmann and Mbappe are still lining out for their sides in 2022, with Pogba out of the tournament through injury.

Brazil 5-2 Sweden (1958)

Amid all of the six-goal thrillers, there has been one seven-goal thriller, with Brazil unsurprisingly involved. The South Americans are the highest scorers in World Cup history, with five of their 232 goals coming in the 1958 final.

While it was France who topped the scoring that year with 23 goals, the most important title went to the South Americans. Hosts Sweden took a shock lead in the final after just four minutes through captain Nils Liedholm, but a double from Vava saw Brazil go into the break with a 2-1 lead.

In full flow in the second half, the star-studded Brazil side quickly made it 4-1 thanks to goals from Pele and Mario Zagallo, with Agne Simonsson giving the home fans slight hope as he made it 4-2 with 10 minutes to go. But up stepped Pele in the final seconds to clinch a 4-2 victory, and with it the beginning of his country’s dominance on the big stage. The iconic Brazilian ended his World Cup career with 12 goals from his 14 matches played in the competition.

World Cup final statistics

21 – World Cup finals have taken place

13 – Different countries have made it to the final

5 – World Cup finals have been won in extra time

2 – World Cup finals have been won on penalties

1 – World Cup final has finished 0-0 (Brazil v Italy, 1994)

3 – Finals between Argentina and Germany, the most competed between the same nations (1986, 1990 & 2014)

12 – World Cup wins for European nations, more than any other continent

2 – Times that the World Cup has been successfully defended; Italy (1934 & 1938) and Brazil (1958 & 1962)

5 – World Cup final wins for Brazil, more than any other nation

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Peter Lynch

Peter Lynch has a passion for both sports and writing.