Whipping boys San Marino celebrate first point in six years

·1 min read
San Marino goalkeeper Elia Benedettini jumps to punch the ball away in a game against Slovenia in 2015. He kept a clean sheet as the minnows drew in Liechtenstein in the Nations League on Tuesday

San Marino are the perennial whipping boys of international football but on Tuesday they were able to celebrate claiming their first point in six years thanks to a 0-0 draw in Liechtenstein in the UEFA Nations League.

Goalkeeper Simone Benedettini was the hero for San Marino as he kept their first clean sheet since a goalless draw at home to Estonia in a European Championship qualifier in November 2014, and their first ever clean sheet away from home.

They had suffered 40 straight defeats before travelling to Vaduz where they claimed their first ever point in the Nations League to move off the mark in League D, Group 2 after losing 1-0 in Gibraltar and 2-0 at home to Liechtenstein last month.

Nevertheless, they have still never won a competitive game since being accepted into international football in 1990, and have not won any match since beating Liechtenstein in a friendly in 2004.

The tiny, landlocked nation, completely surrounded by Italy, has a population of under 35,000, a few thousand less than Liechtenstein, the similarly tiny Alpine principality.

San Marino sit 210th and dead last in the FIFA world rankings, just behind Anguilla, with results in recent years including 9-0 hammerings by Belgium and Russia, 8-0 losses to Norway and Germany, and a 10-0 defeat by Croatia in a 2016 friendly.