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Europe - San Marino Make Their Point... Finally

Minnows claim their first competitive point in six years and first-ever shut-out away from home.

Liechtenstein ‘keeper Benjamin Buchel thwarts San Marino full-back, Mirko Palazzi. Buchel earned his side a point facing 17 shots to his side’s 6.

After six years and 36 matches, European football’s basement nation finally managed to claim a competitive point during the latest round of Nations League fixtures.

Last time they did so was in a home game against Estonia in 2014.

And last Tuesday’s goalless draw away to fellow minnows Liechtenstein - both countries have populations of fewer than 40,000 people - also saw them record their first clean sheet away from home in their 30-year history.

Their international playing record now reads Won 1, Drawn 5, Lost 162. They’ve scored 24 times, almost one goal per year, and conceded exactly 700 times.

They did however famously score the fastest-ever international goal conceded by England in 1994, when Davide Gualtieri put them ahead after only 8.3 seconds, at Stadio Renato Dell’Ara, home of Joey Saputo’s Bologna. At the time it was the fastest World Cup goal ever scored. England won 7-1.

Davide Gualtieri (left) a scorer after only 8.3 seconds against England in Bologna, the second-fastest World Cup goal ever.

That game was moved to Bologna due to the expected crowd appeal of the English, but San Marino generally play home matches at their own 7,000 capacity, municipally-owned stadium in Serravalle.

Last week’s opponents Liechtenstein have been good to the Sammarinese, they’re the only country in the world ever to lose an international to them when San Marino triumphed 1-0 in a friendly in 2004.

The national side is composed mainly of amateur players. A few are part-time professionals also holding second jobs outside of the sport.

Their 0-13 defeat at home by Germany is a European Championship record, and they have conceded ten goals on four other separate occasions.

In the FIFA World Rankings San Marino traditionally have the lowest rank of any UEFA country. Since the creation of FIFA rankings in 1992, their average position has been 176th.
They set a European record when they went over 20 games without scoring between October 2008 and August 2012, and in September 2015, San Marino scored its first away goal in 14 years when Matteo Vitaioli registered against Lithuania in a Euros 2016 qualifying tie.

The tiny republic once had the smallest population of any UEFA country, until the May 2013 election of Gibraltar.

And it’s against those same Gibraltarians in Serravalle next month, that the Sammarinese hope to achieve their first-ever competitive victory. It won’t be easy however; a win for the ‘eleven from the rock’ in either of their remaining two fixtures ensures they win the group.