San Marino 1-0 Liechtenstein (partially found footage of international football match; 2004)
On 28th April 2004, San Marino hosted Liechtenstein for a friendly international football match. Occurring in front of 700 at the Stadio Olimpico di San Marino, the hosts achieved a 1-0 victory courtesy of a 5th-minute free-kick by Roberto Selva. The encounter has become somewhat iconic, as it remains the only match the San Marino national team has ever won.
The San Marino national football team officially became a FIFA and UEFA affiliate in 1988 after playing games since March 1986, and its first qualifying campaign was for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. With the country's population being around 33,000-35,000, and considering the quality of fellow UEFA nations, San Marino was never expected to qualify for any World Cups or European Championships. However, its extremely poor record, including achieving no competitive wins as of 2023, has generally led to it being deemed the weakest men's national football team, a label reflected by regularly placing bottom in the FIFA Men's World rankings. Still, the nation pulled off some surprises during its 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. This included securing its first-ever competitive draw, 0-0 against Turkey on 10th March 1993; to even taking the lead and holding it for over 20 minutes against England during its 7-1 loss to the Three Lions on 17th November 1993. Scored by Davide Gualtieri after 8.3 seconds, the only goal of his during his international career, it amazingly remained the fastest-ever World Cup qualifying goal until 2016. But aside from the Turkey match, San Marino did not earn another draw until a 1-1 result against Latvia on 25th April 2001, as part of the 2002 World Cup qualifying stage.
Meanwhile, Liechtenstein's first competitive campaign did not commence until qualifying for UEFA Euro 1996. Like San Marino, Liechtenstein was deemed extremely unlikely to ever reach a World Cup or European Championship because of its small population. Despite this, they secured their first competitive win on 14th October 1998, beating Azerbaijan 2-1 during the UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying stages. However, by the time they first played San Marino, on 20th August 2003, Liechtenstein had not won a World Cup qualifying match, and would not do so until they beat Luxembourg 4-0 on 13th October 2004, during the qualification stages of the 2006 World Cup.
In the aforementioned encounter on 20th August 2003, hosts Liechtenstein emerged 2-0 in front after 23 minutes, courtesy of Mario Frick and Franz Burgmeier. However, goals from Alex Gasperoni and Nicola Ciacci levelled proceedings for San Marino before half-time, with the final score remaining 2-2. To date, Liechtenstein remain the only nation to fail to beat San Marino after scoring two goals against them. A rematch was set to occur on 28th April 2004, to be played at San Marino's Stadio Olimpico di San Marino.
San Marino Win a Match
The match took place in front of 700 spectators. The hosts started strongly, and gained a free-kick opportunity after five minutes. Andy Selva fired a powerful strike that beat Liechtenstein goalkeeper Peter Jehle and slammed into the top-right corner of the goal for 1-0. Liechtenstein seldom provided challenges in the first half, though a Franz Burgmeier strike did force San Marino goalkeeper Federico Gasperoni to take decisive action. Alex Gasperoni nearly made it 2-0 before halftime, but his volley from a dangerous area failed to hit the target.
Early in the second half, Michael Stocklasa provided Liechtenstein's best chance, his long free-kick heading just wide of the left post. Federico Gasperoni was again forced to save a strong Burgmeier shot, while Selva was warned by referee Lawrence Sammut for simulating after demanding a penalty. Selva nearly made it 2-0 for San Marino in the late stages, but his shot was saved by Jehle. In the end, the score ended 1-0 in San Marino's favour, prompting major celebrations among the 700 in attendance. Post-match, an ecstatic Selva exclaimed "I'm delighted to have scored the winner. It's an historic goal for San Marino and also for me." San Marino manager Giampaolo Mazza praised his side, and deemed the victory well-earned after years of sacrifice from the players and the San Marino Football Federation. A dejected Mario Frick nevertheless credited Selva for his free-kick.
The result also meant San Marino had a positive record against Liechtenstein, consisting of a win and a draw. Their next encounter occurred on 9th February 2011, with Liechtenstein winning 1-0 away from home. Since then, Liechtenstein have beaten San Marino twice more; 1-0 at home on 31st March 2015 in a friendly; and 2-0 away on 8th September 2020 as part of the UEFA Nations League. However, on 13th October 2020, San Marino held Liechtenstein to a goalless draw during a UEFA Nations League match, marking their first-ever away clean sheet in their history. As of July 2023, San Marino have recorded a single win, nine draws, 28 goals, and 190 losses since its 28th March 1986 1-0 friendly loss against Canada.
Following the game's conclusion, San Marino RTV provided a brief match report. This involved showing key highlights including Selva's winning free-kick; as well as post-match interview footage of Mazza and Frick. The showcased footage indicates the match was filmed in its entirety, but the full broadcast currently remains publicly unavailable. It is unclear whether San Marino RTV still hold a full copy of the match.
On a similar note, footage of some San Marino goals have never been unearthed. On 18th November 2022, YouTuber 2004 uploaded clips showcasing 25 of San Marino's first 28 goals from 1991 to 2022. While the nation's 4-1 loss to Finland on 14th December 1994 was confirmed to have been recorded thanks to an available match report, no footage of Pier Domenico Della Valle's 34th-minute goal was seemingly publicly available. This was until 25th January 2023, when intergalactic77 discovered Maglie Nazionale San Marino had uploaded goal footage as part of an Instagram Story, and subsequently uploaded the footage onto YouTube. No footage of San Marino's aforementioned two goals against Liechtenstein on 20th August 2003 is known to have resurfaced, though it is unclear whether the encounter was even recorded to begin with.
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- 11 vs 11 detailing San Marino's 4-1 loss to Finland on 14th December 1994. Retrieved 27th Jul' 23