Wednesday, April 15, 2015

15 April 1934 - When Your Best Isn't Enough

On 15 April 1934, France beat Luxembourg 1-6 in a World Cup qualifier before a crowd of 18,000 at Luxembourg's Stade Municipal. It was both sides' best performance during qualification for that year's tournament.

The 1934 World Cup was the first to require qualification, with a total of 32 teams divided into 12 groups. FIFA placed France and Luxembourg in three-member Group 8, along with Germany. The teams were scheduled to play each once, earning 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw, with the top two teams advancing to the World Cup.

Luxembourg hosted the first Group 8 match, playing Germany at the Stade Municipal on 11 March 1934, with the Germans rolling to a comfortable 1-9 win. Luxembourg then played France in the second match on 15 April.

The French took a quick lead with a 3rd-minute goal from winger Alfred Aston, then doubled their lead when striker Jean Nicolas found the back of the net in the 26th minute. Shortly after the break, Luxembourg's Théophile Speicher closed the gap to one with a 46th-minute strike, but that was their only score on the day. Nicolas, meanwhile, netted a second-half hat-trick (67', 84', 89' (pen.)) to tally four on the day, while his strike partner Ernest Libérati added one of his own (80').

With both France and Germany sitting on 2 points and Luxembourg on none, there was no need for France and Germany to play the scheduled third match against each other. Both advanced to the World Cup, where France was ousted in the first round by Austria. Germany, playing in their first World Cup, lost to Czechoslovakia in the semifinals, but beat Austria in the third-place match.

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