Fastest Goals in International Football

On Saturday 23rd March, 2024, Christoph Baumgartner of Austria set a new record for scoring the fastest goal ever in an international match. Breaking the former mark by a full two seconds, this very much put the RB Leipzig forward in the media spotlight. It also means that a relatively meaningless friendly between Austria and Slovakia, which would normally be quickly forgotten, may now long live in the history books.

Caught up in all this talk about the fastest international goals, we thought we would look at who else had made the net bulge at the very start of an international contest. Baumgartner may be the fastest, but he is far from the only player to have fired his country into an extremely early lead.

Fastest International Goals

Christoph Baumgartner
Christoph Baumgartner (Steindy, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikipedia)

Here is the list of the senior international goals (competitive and friendly matches) that have been scored within the opening 10 seconds:

1. David Hancko

  • Player – David Hancko
  • Match – Slovakia v Liechtsenstein
  • Date – 11th September, 2023
  • Competition – Euro Qualifier
  • Time of Goal – 9 seconds

Liechtenstein are used to conceding early goals but even for them, this was a particularly rough start. The hosts decided to go direct from kick-off, playing the ball back before launching it forward. The hopeful punt was flicked on and fell kindly to Hancko who lofted the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper. If this was not bad enough, the visitors conceded again after three and six minutes. Many would have been expecting an absolute hammering after this but Liechtenstein regained their nerve and managed to avoid conceding any more goals.

2. Lukas Podolski

  • Player – Lukas Podolski
  • Match – Germany v Ecuador
  • Date – 29th May, 2013
  • Competition – Friendly
  • Time of Goal – 9 seconds

The first of two German players to feature on this list is the 130-capped Lukas Podolski. From the 49 goals he scored for his country, this has to be one of the more straightforward ones. From kick-off, Ecuador played the ball backwards and it ended up at the feet of Gabriel Achilier. Bravely (or rather foolishly) the defender tried to take on the on-rushing Podolski, only to be tackled by him. This left the FC Koln man with plenty of time to slot the ball past a stranded Máximo Banguera in goal.

3. Davide Gualtieri

  • Player – Davide Gualtieri
  • Match – San Marino v England
  • Date – 17th November, 1993
  • Competition – World Cup Qualifier
  • Time of Goal – 8 seconds

A match between San Marino and England featuring an incredibly quick goal, there can only be one team responsible for that right? Think again. Comfortably the most shocking goal to feature on this list is the one San Marino managed against England. Not only is it the only time the minnows have scored against the Three Lions, in eight attempts, but they needed just eight seconds to stun their superior opponents.

San Marino, who do not score many goals at the best of times, owe this strike to England left-back Stuart Pearce. It was his dismally weak back pass that enabled Davide Gualtieri to nip in and prod the ball past David Seaman. So unexpected was the goal that fellow fullback Lee Dixon admitted he burst out laughing. Any fears of a truly embarrassing result were quickly extinguished though as England went 2-1 up within 34 minutes in a game that they ended up winning 7-1.

4. Christian Benteke

  • Player – Christian Benteke
  • Match – Gibraltar v Belgium
  • Date – 10th October, 2016
  • Competition – World Cup Qualifier
  • Time of Goal – 8 seconds

Conceding a goal after just 8 seconds never looks great, especially when it’s a goal against the team kicking off. Gibraltar were the masters of their own downfall here as an incredibly sloppy start to the game saw Christian Benteke, then of Crystal Palace, fire home after just eight seconds. The calamitous opening, which would not have looked out of place at the local park, began with a Gibraltar midfielder playing a stray pass across the middle of the pitch.

With this ball easily intercepted by the on-rushing Benteke, the striker was able to charge at the one defender standing between him and the goal. Offering little in the way of resistance, Benteke was able to casually shift the ball onto his left foot before firing across the keeper. This rather set the tone for the rest of the match which finished 6-0 in favour of the visiting side.

5. Florian Wirtz

  • Player – Florian Wirtz
  • Match – France v Germany
  • Date – 23rd March, 2024
  • Competition – Friendly
  • Time of Goal – 7 seconds

In a rather incredible coincidence, the two fastest international goals were both scored on the same day. Florian Wirtz never held the record though, even just for a matter of minutes, as Germany’s clash with France took place three hours after Baumgartner scored for Austria. One thing Wirtz’s goal made clear is the slightly imprecise way we measure goal times in football. Some reports state this goal took eight seconds, whereas others put it at seven.

It is difficult to judge because the midfielder hammered the ball in from 25 yards and it flew into the goal just as the clock hit seven seconds. Timings aside, it was a curious goal for a talented French side to concede. So distracted by the forward runs of Jamal Musiala and Kai Havertz from kick-off, Wirtz found himself in acres of space 35 yards from the French goal when picked out by Toni Kroos. From here he was able to surge forward entirely unopposed before smashing the ball past Brice Samba.

6. Christoph Baumgartner

  • Player – Christoph Baumgartner
  • Match – Slovakia vs Austria
  • Date – 23rd March, 2024
  • Competition – Friendly
  • Time of Goal – 6 seconds

Sometimes a player makes a goal look so easy you wonder why teams cannot regularly rack up a double-digit score. This is one example as here, Baumgartner took the ball from the centre spot, darted between a couple of players, dodged past another and fired a shot into the bottom corner before the retreating backline really approached him.

Perhaps being so direct from kick-off caught the Slovakians off-guard but Baumgartner did not really have to do anything particularly special. His finish from 25 yards was very tidy but he was aided by a Slovakian defence that was content in giving him the time and space to let fly. When the shot did come in, a block was possible but defender Adam Obert seemed to make himself as small as possible rather than get himself in the way.

Fastest Women’s International Goal

Simone Magill
Simone Magill (Anders Henrikson, CC BY 2.0 via Flickr)

Before we finish we also wanted to quickly cover the fastest international goal in a women’s match. We are still waiting for someone to break the 10-second barrier but Simone Magill came very close with her strike against Georgia in 2016. It took the Northern Irish forward just 11 seconds to break the deadlock in the Euro 2017 qualifier. She could not have asked for a more perfect start, especially given her country’s hopes of making it to the finals still hung in the balance. Although this record has lasted a fair while, it is one that we fully expect to be broken eventually.