Friday, April 16, 2010

16 April 1975 - Macdonald Uses His Head

On 16 April 1975, England beat Cyprus 5-0 in a UEFA European Championship qualifier before a crowd of 68,245 at London's Wembley Stadium. Forward Malcolm Macdonald (pictured), who played his club ball at the time for Newcastle United, scored all five goals, setting an English record that stands to this day.

England had already played two qualifying matches, both at Wembley, first defeating Czechoslovakia 3-0 then drawing 0-0 with Portugal to top the group. Cyprus, by contrast, had not yet played a match in qualification.

England started the match in rapid fashion, taking the lead in the 2nd minute with Macdonald's first goal of the day. The Cypriots were unable to mount an attack of their own, or much of a defense, either, as Macdonald added to the scoreline with goals at 35', 48', 53', and 86' (four of the five goals were headers). It was one of only 14 caps for Macdonald, who scored only one other international goal (in a 2-0 win over West Germany).

Unfortunately for England, they failed to maintain the form they demonstrated on that day and, after another win over Cyprus (0-1), a loss to the Czechs (2-1), and a second draw against Portugal (1-1), they finished in the group's second place, one point behind group winners Czechoslovakia. Only the top finisher qualified for the tournament, so England were eliminated.

In 1976, Macdonald left Newcastle for Arsenal, where he was the Gunners' top scorer for two seasons, but he suffered a knee injury at the start of the 1978-79 season. He played sparingly after that, including a brief spell with Djurgårdens in Sweden, but he never fully recovered and retired in August 1979. His five goals against Cyprus remain the most any England player has scored in European Championship competition.

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