Upset of the day in UEFA qualifying: San Marino scores!
And a fine goal it was! The minnowest of UEFA’s minnows entered play today having conceded 38 goals in their seven matches in this round of World Cup qualifying, but managed to level the match with Poland at 1-1 with a snapping header off a nicely flighted free kick.
Lest you think we’re making too big a deal of this, any San Marino goal is a huge event. While the republic scored twice last summer in a friendly 3-2 loss to Malta, today’s goal by Alessandro Della Valle was San Marino’s first competitive goal in almost five years, dating back to an October 2008 World Cup qualifier against Slovakia, which they lost 3-1. San Marino, contained entirely within the borders of Italy, did not score in its qualifying campaign for Euro 2012. Current striker Andy Selva, still on the national team after 15 years, has scored eight of the republic’s 20 all-time goals. San Marino’s second-leading all-time scorer, Manuel Marani, has two.
The equalizer was short-lived as Poland tacked on four goals to win 5-1, so it didn’t change San Marino’s all-time winless mark in competitive fixtures. Their two non-losses in qualifying play came in March 1993 (0-0 draw with Turkey) and April 2001 (1-1 draw at Latvia). San Marino’s only win ever came in a 1-0 friendly triumph over Luxembourg in 2004. Until Gibraltar was ratified by UEFA last year, San Marino was the smallest participant in the confederation.