32 European teams would participate in the qualification for the 1990 World Cup in Italy: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East Germany, England, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, N. Ireland, Norway, Poland, Rep. of Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Soviet Union, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Wales, West Germany, Yugoslavia. Italy were automatically qualified as hosts.
The draw for the qualification was held in Zürich 12 December 1987. 13 qualifying berths had been allocated to the European zone (in addition to Italy), as decided by FIFA at a meeting in Zürich on Friday 21 August 1987. The draw gave the following seven groups:
|Group 3||Soviet Union||East Germany||Austria||Iceland||Turkey|
|Group 4||West Germany||Netherlands||Wales||Finland|
|Group 6||Spain||Hungary||N. Ireland||Rep. of Ireland||Malta|
From group 3, 5, 6 and 7 (the groups with five entries), the teams finishing first and second would directly qualify for the 1990 World Cup. From group 1, 2 and 4 (the groups with four entries), the group winner would be directly qualified; the two best of the runner-ups (most points, or, if even, best goal difference) in these three groups would also directly qualify.
The 32 teams had prior to the draw been seeded and distributed in five pots. The precise criteria for the seedings have not been possible to find. Results in the last World Cup and EURO qualification ostensibly counted for something, but why was then for example Easy Germany placed in pot 2 and Northern Ireland only in pot 3?
Results and match reports
Results are listed in chronological order. For sorting by group, please select a group above.
21 May 1988
Group 6, match 1, Windsor Park (Belfast)
Northern Ireland 3-0 Malta
Three first half goals saw off the minnows as Northern Ireland got off to an excellent start.
31 August 1988
Group 3, match 1, Laugardalsvöllur (Reykjavík)
Iceland 1-1 Soviet Union
Favourites need late leveller to claim point against a strong Iceland team.
Group 4, match 1, Olympiastadion (Helsinki)
Finland 0-4 West Germany
Game is over within 15 minutes, as West Germany run rampant in Helsinki.
14 September 1988
Group 4, match 2, Olympisch Stadion (Amsterdam)
Netherlands 1-0 Wales
Despite the heroics of Neville Southall, the home side triumphed in this qualifying opener for both sides thanks to Gullit’s late show of aerial power.
Group 5, match 1, Ullevaal Stadion (Oslo)
Norway 1-2 Scotland
Johnston second half strike earns visitors the points.
Group 6, match 2, Windsor Park (Belfast)
Northern Ireland 0-0 Republic of Ireland
Intense battle of Ireland ends in stalemate.
21 September 1988
Group 7, match 1, Stade Municipal (Luxembourg)
Luxembourg 1-4 Switzerland
A solid win for Jeandupeux’s new-looking Swiss team.
28 September 1988
Group 5, match 2, Parc des Princes (Paris)
France 1-0 Norway
Papin fires home late penalty to end Norwegian resolve.
12 October 1988
Group 3, match 2, İnönü Stadyumu (Istanbul)
Turkey 1-1 Iceland
Despite dominance, Turkey only have a point to show for.
18 October 1988
Group 7, match 2, Stade de la Frontière (Esch-sur Alzette)
Luxembourg 0-2 Czechoslovakia
Two first half goals do the trick as Czechoslovakia start their campaign with an expected win.
19 October 1988
Group 1, match 1, Olympiakó Stádio (Athens)
Greece 1-1 Denmark
An aggressive home side earn a deserved point despite the visitors’ fight back.
Group 1, match 2, Vasil Levski (Sofia)
Bulgaria 1-3 Romania
Romania off to a brilliant start after an attacking display in Sofia.
Group 2, match 1, Wembley Stadium (London)
England 0-0 Sweden
Hysén with masterpiece performance as Sweden deny England win.
Group 2, match 2, Stadion Śląski (Chorzów)
Poland 1-0 Albania
Win could and should have been by a greater margin as Poland were dominant.
Group 3, match 3, Respublikanskyi Stadion (Kiev)
Soviet Union 2-0 Austria
Defensive visitors can’t deny the Soviets the win.
Group 3, match 4, Jahnsportpark (East Berlin)
East Germany 2-0 Iceland
Thom strikes twice as GDR get off to a flyer.
Group 4, match 3, Vetch Field (Swansea)
Wales 2-2 Finland
Hosts fail to convert penalty to claim win in first home qualifier.
Group 5, match 3, Hampden Park (Glasgow)
Scotland 1-1 Yugoslavia
Intense battle ends all square after first half goals.
Group 6, match 3, Népstadion (Budapest)
Hungary 1-0 Northern Ireland
Substitute strikes late to give Hungary a flying start to the qualification.
Group 7, match 3, Stade du Heysel (Brussels)
Belgium 1-0 Switzerland
Wasteful Belgium sweep past dire guests.
22 October 1988
Group 5, match 4, Makáreio Stádio (Nicosia)
Cyprus 1-1 France
Visitors are left stunned from late leveller after shocking performance.
2 November 1988
Group 1, match 3, Standionul Steaua (Bucharest)
Romania 3-0 Greece
Romania in total control against poor away side.
Group 1, match 4, Idrætsparken (Copenhagen)
Denmark 1-1 Bulgaria
Denmark denied by cautious, fighting Bulgarian side.
Group 3, match 5, Praterstadion (Vienna)
Austria 3-2 Turkey
Austria could’ve let their three goal lead slip.
Group 5, match 5, Tsíreio Stádio (Limassol)
Cyprus 0-3 Norway
Three second half goals against put a dent in Cypriot belief.
5 November 1988
Group 2, match 3, Stadiumi Qemal Stafa (Tirana)
Albania 1-2 Sweden
Two away goals in four minutes turn the tie on its head.
16 November 1988
Group 6, match 4, Benito Villamarín (Seville)
Spain 2-0 Republic of Ireland
Injury-ravaged Ireland are no match to hungry Spaniards.
Group 7, match 4, Tehelné Pole (Bratislava)
Czechoslovakia 0-0 Belgium
Belgium weather off the storm in Bratislava.
Group 7, match 5, Estádio do Bessa (Porto)
Portugal 1-0 Luxembourg
Tame performance by Portugal to open their qualification. Luxembourg very workmanlike.
19 November 1988
Group 5, match 6, Stadion JNA (Belgrade)
Yugoslavia 3-2 France
Savićević inspires late win.
30 November 1988
Group 3, match 6, İnönü Stadyumu (Istanbul)
Turkey 3-1 East Germany
Hosts turn on style to defeat poor GDR.
11 December 1988
Group 5, match 7, Stadion Crvena Zvezda (Belgrade)
Yugoslavia 4-0 Cyprus
35 crushing minutes enough for handsome home win.
Group 6, match 5, Ta’Qali (Valletta)
Malta 2-2 Hungary
Hungary without a lot of regulars struggle against aggressive hosts.
21 December 1988
Group 6, match 6, Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán (Seville)
Spain 4-0 Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland hold out for 30 minutes but fall apart following three strikes in quick succession after the break.
22 January 1989
Group 6, match 7, Ta’ Qali (Valletta)
Malta 0-2 Spain
Without ever reaching their pinnacle, Spain without too much bother see off spirited Malta.
8 February 1989
Group 5, match 8, Tsíreio Stádio (Limassol)
Cyprus 2-3 Scotland
Dramatic winner deep into injury time rewards the Scottish.
Group 6, match 8, Windsor Park (Belfast)
Northern Ireland 0-2 Spain
Cautious approach and corners give Spain the win.
15 February 1989
Group 7, match 6, Estádio da Luz (Lisbon)
Portugal 1-1 Belgium
Silvino’s howler gifts Belgium a point.
8 March 1989
Group 2, match 4, Stadiumi Qemal Stafa (Tirana)
Albania 0-2 England
England do what is expected of them and not so much more.
Group 5, match 9, Hampden Park (Glasgow)
Scotland 2-0 France
Group 6, match 9, Népstadion (Budapest)
Hungary 0-0 Republic of Ireland
Lacklustre performance by a reshaping Hungary, the Irish not much better.
23 March 1989
Group 6, match 10, Estadio Benito Villamarín (Seville)
Spain 4-0 Malta
Spain easily deal with ten man Malta, who were all set about damage limitation in the second half after being reduced to ten men on the stroke of half time.
12 April 1989
Group 3, match 7, Ernst-Grube-Stadion (Magdeburg)
East Germany 0-2 Turkey
Hosts fail to capitalize on pressure as goalkeeper Engin plays a big part for visitors in their smash ‘n grab.
Group 6, match 11, Népstadion (Budapest)
Hungary 1-1 Malta
Malta left with a very well deserved point, and could have punished the Hungarians on the break even further.
26 April 1989
Group 1, match 5, Olympiakó Stádio (Athens)
Greece 0-0 Romania
Romania the better side for an hour, until Greece decide to put pressure on Romania in the build-up phase. A draw probably just about fair in the end.
Group 1, match 6, Vasil Levski (Sofia)
Bulgaria 0-2 Denmark
Denmark the better team to win their first game of the qualification.
Group 2, match 5, Wembley Stadium (London)
England 5-0 Albania
Simple win for wasteful England.
Group 3, match 8, Respublikanskyi Stadion (Kiev)
Soviet Union 3-0 East Germany
USSR did not need to fire on all cylinders to claim both points.
Group 4, match 5, Stadion de Kuip (Rotterdam)
Netherlands 1-1 West Germany
Intense battle sees hosts with late equalizer.
Group 5, match 10, Hampden Park (Glasgow)
Scotland 2-1 Cyprus
Scotland move four points clear with win against plucky Cypriots.
Group 6, match 12, Ta’ Qali (Valletta)
Malta 0-2 Northern Ireland
Professional job by the Ulstermen.
Group 6, match 13, Lansdowne Road (Dublin)
Republic of Ireland 1-0 Spain
Brilliant battling display secure Ireland their first win.
Group 7, Estádio da Luz (Lisbon)
Portugal 3-1 Switzerland
Dull game livens up with four goals after the break.
29 April 1989
Group 5, match 11, Parc des Princes (Paris)
France 0-0 Yugoslavia
Visitors secure point through disciplined defensive showing.
Group 7, match 8, Stade du Heysel (Brussels)
Belgium 2-1 Czechoslovakia
Degryse’s double denies Czechoslovakia a share of the spoils in a fine tussle.
7 May 1989
Group 2, match 6, Råsunda (Stockholm)
Sweden 2-1 Poland
Sweden struggle to break down Poland, but are victorious thanks to set-pieces.
9 May 1989
Group 7, match 9, Stadion Letná (Prague)
Czechoslovakia 4-0 Luxembourg
A ten minute period late in the second half saw Czechoslovakia win comprehensively.
10 May 1989
Group 3, match 9, İnönü Stadyumu (Istanbul)
Turkey 0-1 Soviet Union
Strong away performance makes for well-deserved Soviet win.
17 May 1989
Group 1, match 7, Standionul Steaua (Bucharest)
Romania 1-0 Bulgaria
Leaders Romania escape with a scare after Stoichkov’s shot hit the bar.
Group 1, match 8, Idrætsparken (Copenhagen)
Denmark 7-1 Greece
The visitors are nowhere near as the hosts turn on the style after the break and score five times against ten men.
20 May 1989
Group 3, match 10, Zentralstadion (Leipzig)
East Germany 1-1 Austria
GDR back on track after late goal denies visitors win.
21 May 1989
Group 5, match 12, Ullevaal Stadion (Oslo)
Norway 3-1 Cyprus
Far from vintage, but the Norwegians claim the expected two points.
28 May 1989
Group 6, match 14, Lansdowne Road (Dublin)
Republic of Ireland 2-0 Malta
A less enthusiastic Ireland still deal comfortably with negative Malta.
31 May 1989
Group 3, match 11, Tsentralny Stadion, Luzhniki (Moscow)
Soviet Union 1-1 Iceland
Sleepy performance by hosts sees Iceland nick point with late leveller.
Group 4, match 6, Olympiastadion (Helsinki)
Finland 0-1 Netherlands
Hosts close to getting a draw until late goal.
Group 4, match 7, Cardiff Arms Park (Cardiff)
Wales 0-0 West Germany
Inspired Welsh team gave as good as they got.
1 June 1989
Group 7, Stade Grimonprez-Jooris (Lille, France)
Luxembourg 0-5 Belgium
Belgium show glimpses of their quality, and Van Der Linden is deadly effective with his four goals.
3 June 1989
Group 2, match 7, Wembley Stadium (London)
England 3-0 Poland
England dominate and win again, and have yet to concede. Poland’s campaign all but over.
4 June 1989
Group 6, match 15, Lansdowne Road (Dublin)
Republic of Ireland 2-0 Hungary
Win gives the Republic of Ireland a great advantage over Hungary in the hunt for second place.
7 June 1989
Group 7, match 11, Stadion Wankdorf (Bern)
Switzerland 0-1 Czechoslovakia
Interesting Swiss line-up, but they can’t match physical Czechoslovakians.
14 June 1989
Group 3, match 12, Laugardalsvöllur (Reykjavik)
Iceland 0-0 Austria
Austria desperately lucky to return with a draw.
Group 5, match 13, Ullevaal Stadion (Oslo)
Norway 1-2 Yugoslavia
A Stojković-inspired Yugoslavia deservedly take the points.
23 August 1989
Group 3, match 13, Stadion Lehen (Salzburg)
Austria 2-1 Iceland
Screamer from Zsak wins game for Austria to put pressure on Turkey in battle for qualification.
5 September 1989
Group 5, match 14, Ullevaal Stadion (Oslo)
Norway 1-1 France
Late leveller for Norway ruins France’ day out.
6 September 1989
Group 2, match 8, Råsunda (Stockholm)
Sweden 0-0 England
England marginally the better side as both ‘keepers make saves to keep the opposition out. A second scoreless draw between these two see them both edge closer towards qualification.
Group 3, match 14, Praterstadion (Vienna)
Austria 0-0 Soviet Union
Dull game with the right outcome.
Group 3, match 15, Laugardalsvöllur (Reykjavik)
Iceland 0-3 East Germany
Poor hosts again fall to their nemesis.
Group 4, match 8, Olympiastadion (Helsinki)
Finland 1-0 Wales
Strong performance by hosts sees them claim deserved win.
Group 5, match 15, Stadion Maksimir (Zagreb)
Yugoslavia 3-1 Scotland
Second half goal blitz overturned visitors as Yugoslavia secure qualification.
Group 6, match 16, Windsor Park (Belfast)
Northern Ireland 1-2 Hungary
The Ulstermen show real commitment, but Hungary win by individual brilliance.
Group 7, match 12, Stade Heysel (Brussels)
Belgium 3-0 Portugal
Two attacking-minded teams, but Portugal’s defence thoroughly exposed.
20 September 1989
Group 3, match 16, Laugardalsvöllur (Reykjavik)
Iceland 2-1 Turkey
Spirited show by hosts against points-needy visitors.
Group 7, match 13, Stade de la Maladière (Neuchâtel)
Switzerland 1-2 Portugal
Portugal score twice in quick succession to complete a second half comeback for two vital points.
4 October 1989
Group 4, match 9, Westfalenstadion (Dortmund)
West Germany 6-1 Finland
West Germans deliever proof of their quality.
6 October 1989
Group 7, match 14, Stadion Letná (Prague)
Czechoslovakia 2-1 Portugal
Ten man Czechoslovakia with crucial win thanks to two Bílek goals.
8 October 1989
Group 2, match 9, Råsunda (Stockholm)
Sweden 3-1 Albania
The home side have too much nouse for an Albanian team with little to play for. They seem untroubled even after going behind.
Group 3, match 17, Ernst-Thälmann-Stadion (Karl-Marx-Stadt)
East Germany 2-1 Soviet Union
Late comeback sees GDR still in with a chance for qualification.
11 October 1989
Group 1, match 9, Yuri Gagarin Stadion (Sofia)
Bulgaria 4-0 Greece
Greece have three players sent off in the second half and fall to graceless defeat against a home side turning the screw late on in miserable conditions.
Group 1, match 10, Idrætsparken (Copenhagen)
Denmark 3-0 Romania
The Danes’ good form continues, soundly beating Romania to take the lead before the last match.
Group 2, match 10, Stadion Śląski (Chorzów)
Poland 0-0 England
Poland well on top during an all-action first half, but England close the space in an uneventful second. The visitors qualify for the World Cup, Poland are out.
Group 4, match 10, Racecourse Ground (Wrexham)
Wales 1-2 Netherlands
Impressive away win against a battling Wales makes sure the Dutch claim pole position.
Group 5, match 16, Olimpijski Stadion (Sarajevo)
Yugoslavia 1-0 Norway
Both teams have players sent off in less fluid game.
Group 5, match 17, Parc des Princes (Paris)
France 3-0 Scotland
Group 6, match 17, Lansdowne Road, Dublin.
Republic of Ireland 3-0 Northern Ireland
Big win all but sees the Republic through to Italy.
Group 6, match 18, Népstadion, Budapest.
Hungary 2-2 Spain
Hungary draw with all-out attack, as Spain qualify for Italia’90.
Group 7, match 15, Ludwigspark Stadion (Saarbrücken)
Luxembourg 0-3 Portugal
Comprehensive away win leaves Portugal clinging on to hope.
Group 7, match 16, St. Jakob Stadion (Basel)
Switzerland 2-2 Belgium
Dull game springs to life in the first 15 minutes of the second half as an injury-hit Switzerland grab a point, but Belgium all but qualified for the World Cup.
25 October 1989
Group 2, match 11, Stadion Śląski (Chorzów)
Poland 0-2 Sweden
Understandably lacklustre Polish performance under the circumstances, and a thoroughly professional job by the Swedish to make their qualification certain with a well-taken win.
Group 3, match 18, Ali Sami Yen Stadyumu (Istanbul)
Turkey 3-0 Austria
Well-taken goals finish off disappointing visitors
Group 7, match 17, Letná Stadion (Prague)
Czechoslovakia 3-0 Switzerland
Unimpressive hosts notch all-important win.
Group 7, match 18, Heysel Stadion (Brussels)
Belgium 1-1 Luxembourg
An extraordinary result, but it was no less than Luxembourg deserved after holding their own throughout.
28 October 1989
Group 5, match 18, Olympiakó Stádio (Athens, Greece)
Cyprus 1-2 Yugoslavia
Much-changed visitors have too much for plucky Cyprus.
15 November 1989
Group 1, match 11, Olympiakó Stádio (Athens)
Greece 1-0 Bulgaria
Greece climb above Bulgaria on the table.
Group 1, match 12, Standionul Steaua (Bucharest)
Romania 3-1 Denmark
Romania prevail in wide open game, Denmark eliminated.
Group 2, match 12, Stadiumi Qemal Stafa (Tirana)
Albania 1-2 Poland
Albania fail to claim a single point during the qualification thanks to late Ziober winner for the visitors.
Group 3, match 19, Lokomotiv Stadion (Simferopol)
Soviet Union 2-0 Turkey
Second half goals see Turkey eliminated
Group 3, match 20, Praterstadion (Vienna)
Austria 3-0 East Germany
Polster’s big night sees Austria win through to World Cup
Group 4, match 11, Stadion de Kuip (Rotterdam)
Netherlands 3-0 Finland
Hosts make sure of World Cup participation.
Group 4, match 12, Müngersdorfer Stadion (Cologne)
West Germany 2-1 Wales
FRG need to come from behind to win and join the Dutch for Italia ’90.
Group 5, match 19, Hampden Park (Glasgow)
Scotland 1-1 Norway
Hosts make it through to Italia ’90 after battling display.
Group 6, match 19, Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Seville.
Spain 4-0 Hungary
Another comfortable home win to round up Spain’s campaign.
Group 6, match 20, Ta’ Qali, Valletta.
Malta 0-2 Republic of Ireland
The Irish dominant from start to finish.
Group 7, match 19, Estádio da Luz (Lisbon)
Portugal 0-0 Czechoslovakia
Stalemate despite Portugal’s valiant effort to breach the visitors.
Group 7, match 20, Espenmoos (St. Gallen)
Switzerland 2-1 Luxembourg
Two second half goals are Luxembourg’s undoing as they show some fine spirit once again. The Swiss finally received a boost.
18 November 1989
Group 5, match 20, Stadium Municipal (Toulouse)
France 2-0 Cyprus