Spain 12–1 Malta

On 21 December 1983, Spain played Malta in the last qualifying match for UEFA Euro 1984. The game is often described as one of the most important in the Spanish national football team's history.[1][by whom?]

Spain v Malta (1983)
Panorama Estadio Betis.jpg
The Estadio Benito Villamarín in Seville hosted the match
EventUEFA Euro 1984 qualifying
Group 7
Matchday 8
Spain qualified for UEFA Euro 1984
Date21 December 1983 (1983-12-21)
VenueEstadio Benito Villamarín, Seville
RefereeErkan Göksel (Turkey)


Four days before the game, the Netherlands defeated Malta 5–0 and finished their qualification schedule with 13 points and a goal difference of +16. If Spain won their final qualifier and thus also finished on 13 points, then goal difference would decide which team qualified.

With a goal difference of +5, Spain would need to defeat Malta by a margin of 11 or more goals to qualify. The team had only managed to score 12 goals in their previous seven matches, and before the game the Maltese goalkeeper, John Bonello, said: "Spain couldn't even score 11 goals against a team of children."[citation needed]

After 17 December, and before Spain's match against Malta, the group 7 table stood as follows:

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1   Netherlands 8 6 1 1 22 6 +16 13 Qualify for final tournament
2   Spain 7 5 1 1 12 7 +5 11
3   Republic of Ireland (E) 8 4 1 3 20 10 +10 9
4   Iceland (E) 8 1 1 6 3 13 −10 3
5   Malta (E) 7 1 0 6 4 25 −21 2
Updated to match(es) played on 17 December 1983. Source: UEFA
Rules for classification: Qualification tiebreakers
(E) Eliminated.



Spain's only chance of qualifying for Euro 1984 was to defeat Malta by at least 11 goals.

In the second minute of the match, Spain were awarded a penalty kick after a foul on Francisco José Carrasco inside the box. However, Juan Antonio Señor subsequently missed the penalty in the fourth minute after the shot deflected back off the left post and was cleared by a Maltese defender for a corner. After Santillana opened the scoring for Spain in the 15th minute, Malta's Michael Degiorgio leveled the score 1–1 in the 24th minute.[2][3]

When half-time came and the scoreline was 3–1 to Spain, few expected them to score enough goals to qualify. However, Juan Antonio Señor, who had missed the early penalty, scored Spain's 12th and last goal in the 88th minute; Rafael Gordillo nearly scored a 13th in the final minutes of the game but it was disallowed by the referee. That did not matter, however, as the Spaniards won by the 11-goal margin required for them to beat the Netherlands to qualification.[4]


Spain  12–1  Malta
GK 1 Francisco Buyo
CB 5 Andoni Goikoetxea
CB 3 José Antonio Camacho (c)
CB 4 Antonio Maceda   52'
CM 2 Juan Antonio Señor
CM 6 Rafael Gordillo   25'
CM 8 Víctor Muñoz
RM 10 Manuel Sarabia
LM 11 Hipólito Rincón   88'
CF 7 Lobo Carrasco
CF 9 Santillana
FW 16 Marcos Alonso   88'
Miguel Muñoz
GK 1 John Bonello   50'
RB 3 Alex Azzopardi
CB 2 Emanuel Farrugia
CB 5 John Holland (c)
CB 6 Norman Buttigieg
LB 10 Emanuel Fabri   34'
CM 11 Michael Degiorgio   3'   76'
CM 9 Ernest Spiteri-Gonzi
CM 8 Ray Farrugia   70'
CF 4 Simon Tortell   23'
CF 7 Silvio Demanuele
DF 14 Mario Farrugia   76'
Victor Scerri

Assistant referees:
Yahya Diker (Turkey)
Özcan Oal (Turkey)

Match rules

  • 90 minutes.
  • Maximum of two substitutions.


The match was broadcast by RTVE in Spain. Afterwards, many claimed[citation needed] that the Maltese were paid to not play their best and to let Spain win by a large margin, and it was rumoured that words had been exchanged between Maltese and Spanish officials and players at half-time. In March 2018, two Maltese players, Silvio Demanuele and Carmel Busuttil, claimed the Spanish players had been using doping as "they had foam in their mouths and could not stop drinking water". They also claim the Maltese players were drugged via lemon wedges during halftime.[5] However, as of 2018, match-fixing has not been proven.[6]

The Malta Football Association launched an inquiry into the result, and its chairman George Abela (later the President of Malta) brought about changes to the national team. Abela said that a lack of facilities meant that the team lacked serious professional preparation for a tournament such as the European Championships, and the closeness of away fixtures (Malta had played in the Netherlands only four days before their 12–1 loss in Seville) was a further hindrance and such scheduling would be avoided in future.

Final tableEdit

Spain and the Netherlands finished the qualification stage level on 13 points, level on goal difference, but Spain qualified on goals scored (24, compared to 22 for the Netherlands).

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1   Spain 8 6 1 1 24 8 +16 13 Qualify for final tournament
2   Netherlands 8 6 1 1 22 6 +16 13
3   Republic of Ireland 8 4 1 3 20 10 +10 9
4   Iceland 8 1 1 6 3 13 −10 3
5   Malta 8 1 0 7 5 37 −32 2
Source: UEFA
Rules for classification: Qualification tiebreakers


See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Murray, Scott (2 September 2011). "The Joy of Six: European Championship qualifiers". Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 23 July 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Colossal 12–1 win for Spain" (PDF). Times of Malta. Seville. 22 December 1983. Retrieved 23 January 2019.[dead link] Alt URL
  4. ^ "Spain's top newspaper recalls 12-1 victory over Malta 30 years ago today". Times of Malta. 21 December 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  5. ^ (March 20, 2018). "Watch: 1983 12-1 defeat against Spain - Maltese players say they were drugged".
  6. ^ Mattia Chiusano (June 20, 2004). "E la Spagna rifilò 12 reti a Malta". la Repubblica (in Italian). p. 48.

External linksEdit