England have achieved bigger victories than 5-0 in their long history, but there can hardly have been a more one-sided match than a European Championship Qualifier against Malta that was played on this day in 1971.
The home side did knock in five to boost their goal average, but they should have managed a few more on an evening when the Maltese made it clear from the first minute that they were desperate to avoid a defeat of embarrassing proportions.
They packed their deep-lying defence and took as long as they could with goal kicks. The Wembley crowd of just 36,500 probably wasn’t expecting much of a contest.
Some poor finishing and some inspired goalkeeping by Bonaci gave them a frustrating half-hour without a goal. Then Martin Peters, a World Cup hero five years earlier, floated in a free-kick and Spurs team-mate Martin Chivers headed England in front.
Shortly before the break Francis Lee nodded home for 2-0. But on the balance of play it was a disappointing return.
England dominated to such an extent that World Cup ‘keeper Gordon Banks only had two back-passes to deal with.
Two quick goals in the second period from Allan Clarke, a penalty for handball, and Chivers made it 4-0. The visitors’ defence retreated even further but Liverpool right-back Chris Lawler later scored with a 35-yarder on his debut and there was another spot-kick, which Clarke this time blazed wide.