During the BBC live text feed of this week’s World Cup qualification matches Northern Ireland were described as having been “within 10 minutes of an upset” in Portugal. However, the draw which Northern Ireland managed in Portugal was not only an upset but the biggest shock of 2014 World Cup qualification so far in Europe.
There have been seven matches to date in the UEFA section of World Cup qualification in which the result had less than 22% chance of happening according to the adjusted bookmakers’ odds. Five of those seven shock results have been draws. So isn’t it about time that some credit was given to the teams who have managed to pull off these upsets?
Surprise results can happen at any time of course and many are due, at least in part, to random variation which undoubtedly exists in a sport in which scoring events are rare. Six of the seven matches in the table above required the team pulling off the surprise to score just a single goal at most to do so.