Which club has the highest back-to-back symmetrical scores in football?

“Celtic lost 6-0 to Atlético Madrid this month. To make amends Celtic beat Aberdeen by the same scoreline in the following game. Do any other teams have a higher symmetrical scoreline in back-to-back games?” asks Billy.

Let’s start with a cracking example from Christmas 1960, as highlighted by Clive Denny, when Charlton and Plymouth produced symmetrical scorelines against each other in the space of 24 hours.

• 26 December Charlton 6-4 Plymouth
27 December Plymouth 6-4 Charlton

Chris Baynes sends his memory of two classic Liverpool matches from April 2009, when Rafa Benítez’s side started to run out of a steam after a brilliant season:

• 14 April Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool, Champions League quarter-final (agg: 7-5)

“Liverpool were 3-1 down from the first leg. No Steven Gerrard. Fabio Aurelio mugging Petr Cech. Xabi Alonso penalty. ‘Surely we can’t?’ Fernando Torres top class in a red shirt. Seven minutes away from another semi. Madness.”

Frank Lampard scores for Chelsea in the 4-4 draw with Liverpool on 14 April 2009.
Frank Lampard scores for Chelsea in the 4-4 draw with Liverpool on 14 April 2009. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

• 21 April Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal, Premier League

“In the days when Liverpool going top could still be a bad result. A proverbial ding-dong. Kop breathing fire. Fernando Torres at it again. Arsenal counter. Andrey Arshavin.” Yes, Arshavin. He scored all four of Arsenal’s goals, and though Liverpool equalised in injury time to go top of the league on goal difference, the eventual champions, Manchester United, had two games in hand. They didn’t waste them.

Finally, an unusual – and highly symmetrical – tale from Estonia:

Levadia Tallinn have gone one goal better than Celtic and also managed symmetrical scorelines in back-to-back Champions League matches as well as back-to-back matches in 2014,” writes Tom Wright.

• 8 July Levadia Tallinn 7-0 La Fiorita (Champions League qualifier)
12 July Levadia Tallinn 7-0 Trans Narva (Estonian League game)
15 July Sparta Prague 7-0 Levadia Tallinn (Champions League qualifier)

More relegated Champions League teams

In last week’s Knowledge, we looked at teams who played in the European Cup/Champions League and were relegated in the same season. Sean DeLoughry has very generously filled in the many holes in our Knowledge …

“The list wouldn’t be complete without Herfolge,” he writes. “Promoted in 1999, they won their only Danish league title in 2000 and were relegated in 2001. During the 2001 relegation season they lost 3-0 home and away to Rangers in the Champions League qualifiers. The 1973 Danish champions Hvidore crashed out of the 1974-75 European Cup, losing to Polish champions Ruch Chorzow before tumbling out of the 1974 Danish top flight.

Haka’s impressively up-and-down efforts in the mid-1990s mentioned last week didn’t actually include a Champions League sojourn. For a number of seasons the Champions League was restricted to the top 24 leagues in Europe, with lower ranked champions banished to the Uefa Cup, so Haka dropped out of the Uefa Cup during their relegated-as-champions season. Remarkably it was the second successive season that the Finnish champions had been relegated. The 1994 champions, TPV Tampere, were relegated in 1995 and crashed out of the 1995-96 Uefa Cup in the preliminary round.

“In 1967-68 FC Nuremburg won their ninth (and last) German title. They lost 5-1 on aggregate to Ajax in the 1968-69 European Cup before slipping out of the Bundesliga.

Rabat Ajax won back-to-back Maltese titles in 1984-85-86, but were relegated in 1987. During the relegation season they lost 10-0 to Porto on aggregate in the European Cup first round. Their overall record in Europe is a bracing P8, L8, F0, A40. The 1969 Swedish champions, Djurgardens, crashed out of the European Cup and the Allsvenskan by the end of 1970.

“One of the most spectacular spirals was that of Barry Town. All looked rosy when they won a seventh League of Wales title in eight seasons in 2002-03, but the price of financing a pro squad proved ruinous and they went into administration in 2003. They cobbled together an amateur team which won a Champions League qualifier against Vardar Skopje, but lost on aggregate, however it was to be a long hard season. Barry won only three out of 32 league games to finish bottom, with just one team to be relegated as the league restructured.”

The shortest-lived new manager bounce?

“Bradford City unveiled their new manager Graham Alexander on 11 November and it was precisely 26 seconds before opponents Barrow scored! I’m sure there is a worse example of the lack of new-manager bounce, but can any new manager beat a quicker conceded goal?” asks James Mackenzie.

“My team, Dundee United, introduced legendary player Billy Kirkwood as new Manager in 1995,” writes Alan Christine. “Rangers scored 12 seconds into his first game.” When Rangers went 2-0 up in the eighth minute, Dundee United were facing a new manager trounce, but that was the end of the scoring. Kirkwood is one second ahead of Cordoba’s Enrique Martin, as detailed here.”

Graham Alexander watches on as Bradford lose 2-1 to Barrow.
Graham Alexander watches on as Bradford lose 2-1 to Barrow. Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/Shutterstock

Another perfect, perfect hat-trick

We also looked at Anglo-German hat-tricks in last week’s Knowledge, with only Erling Haaland satisfying the strictest criteria. But now he has a new strike partner …

Leon Clarke scored an uninterrupted hat-trick between the 53rd and 80th minutes for Sheffield United in their 4-1 win over Hull City on 4 November 2017,” writes John Guest. “He scored with his left foot, right foot, and his head, in that order. He went on to score a fourth goal with his left foot, but ran out of time before he could complete his second lap.”

Knowledge archive

“James Forrest recently scored for the 15th consecutive season,” wrote Steven Coyle. “A quick Google confirmed Ryan Giggs went 23. Any longer examples at the top level?”

We looked at this question in 2009, when Rosenborg legend Roar Strand scored for the 20th consecutive top-flight season. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

This weekend Ryan Giggs equalled Strand’s epic achievement. The Welshman’s first league goal came in the Manchester derby back in May of the 1990-91 season and his free-kick against Spurs on Saturday evening means he has scored in 20 consecutive seasons in the top-flight. Paul Scholes, by way of comparison (and yet to score this season) has found the net in a mere 15 back-to-back seasons.

Of the one-club men, Giggs and Strand seem to be the pacesetters, but a fair few can better or match their achievements with multiple clubs. Paul Lovatt suggests Roberto Dinamite of Vasco da Gama who “scored 186 goals in 20 championships contended for for Vasco da Gama, from Rio de Janeiro, and one for Portuguesa, of São Paulo” between 1971 and 1990, according to this slightly awkwardly translated site.

And Paul Haynes is keen to dampen Giggs’ and Strand’s celebrations. “It is certainly not a record,” he sternly begins. “Romário, for example, scored every season from 1985-2007 (23 overlapping seasons) and Pelé scored in every season 1957-1977 (21 seasons) while Puskás scored in the 22 seasons he played football (though he was banned from football for two years during this period).

• 2023 update: it looks like Giggs and Romário are top of the list with 23, unless anyone can do better.


Can you help?

“Arsenal’s Jorginho has now missed four penalties in a row while playing for Italy. Has a player failed with more consecutive penalties, either for club or country?” asks Bogdan Kotarlic.

“Spurs have conceded two second-half injury time goals in both of their last two games. Has this ever happened before?” wonders Jeremy Cartwright.

“After 15 games, Hornchurch are top of the Isthmian League Premier Division with a goal difference of +34. The team in second, Enfield, are +11. Has there ever been a bigger difference at this stage of the season?” asks Jack Hart.

“Stevenage had three substitutes with the same surname – Thompson – on their bench on Saturday. Is this a record?” asks Chris Hooper.

“Which player has scored the most goals against a single goalkeeper?” asks John Ruddock.

“The recent Chelsea-Manchester City game had eight goals, every one of which changed who was leading in the game (equalising is a change). What’s the biggest scoreline for which this is true? That game also had different teams ahead on three occasions: City at 1-0, Chelsea at 2-1, then City again at 3-2 and 4-3. What’s the most lead swaps of this sort in a game?” wonders Dave Mellinger.

Mail us your questions or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.