Overtime Magic: How Does Overtime Work in Soccer?

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Soccer games require a clear winner. The game is a test of your ability and team effort. Equal goals or no goals may end your game in a tie.

To avoid neutral game results, you need to know about football’s concept of “overtime.” This allows the games to continue for an extra period of 30 minutes. 

It’s a crucial part of soccer that we’ll explore in detail., including how it works in soccer.

Overtime adds a thrilling twist to the game, making sure there’s always a clear winner. Since overtime is crucial in the final moments of soccer, players battle fatigue and emotion to score. Have you noticed this in soccer games?

The teams master recovery strategies to sustain in such situations. So, understanding over time is important to play the game and enjoy it as an audience. 

How Do They Play Overtime in Soccer?

First, let us ask, “Where do overtime rules apply?” Well, overtime rules apply in the finals of the FIFA World Cup, quarterfinals, semi-finals, third-place play-offs, and other major soccer competitions. 

Overtime rules are quite simple. What does it look like?

Basically, all group-stage matches end after 90 minutes with an extension. Overtime is played for a period of 30 minutes, divided into two 15 minutes. 

So what happens then? Players take a break after the initial 15 minutes. The break period differs depending on the format.

But what about the rules? Do they change? Nope. The rules during overtime are the same as the regular playtime. There is no break between the end of regular playtime and the start of overtime. 

In most cases, with no rest, the players need to be physically alert and ready to give their best. That’s truly a test of human strength and endurance, right?

However, some game formats may give a brief break to players. After the completion of overtime, if the score is still tied, then the match moves towards a penalty shootout. 

What does this phase look like? There’s a time limit during this phase, but it does mean you’ll be out on the field for a bit longer after the game’s supposed to be over. The game continues until the overtime period ends. It even continues even if a goal is scored. 

But do not that some game formats might use the golden goal rule where the game ends if a goal is scored. 

When Is Overtime Used in Soccer?

Do you know about tie games? Tie games are a natural part of soccer events, especially during the World Cup. As the event progresses, with the clash of the best teams, there is always a high chance this could lead to a draw. 

Overtime is like a bonus part of the game. If the score is tied at the end, it’s considered a draw, meaning no one wins. A clear winner is necessary in some game formats, especially in a knockout format. 

Overtime is not a direct rule in all soccer competitions. In some formats, a draw after the regular play time will require a replay or a shared point system

The referee makes the final decision of whether or not to use overtime. Several factors, like the players’ time, score, and physical condition, are considered.

And so, you might ask, “If they are exhausted, are they allowed to make substitutions?” Yes, the players can make substitutions during overtime. 

The referee can call to stop the clock for injuries and other situations. Coaches reserve fresh players to play during overtime to maintain energy levels and tactical strategies. 

Some of the most exciting moments have happened after 90 minutes of regular playtime. So who gets to win? It’s simple.

The team in the lead after the overtime will be declared the winner. But what happens if they tie? In case of a tie, the match will move towards a penalty shootout.

Most Soccer Competitions Use Overtime at Some Point

Overtime is employed in knockout-style tournaments like the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA Champions League. These formats have elimination rounds and require a clear winner to advance to the tournament’s next stage. 

Where else is it applied? Cup competitions in countries like the FA Cup in England or the Copa del Rey in Spain have overtime rules.

The format of these tournaments requires the competing team to advance to the next level, for which a clear winner must be decided in every match. 

What about other competitions? Some soccer leagues may use playoffs to select the overall champion. In such matches, overtime helps select a decisive winning side, especially in the final rounds. 

Also, when two teams compete for a title league, their point may get tied or drawn. What happens then? Under such situations, they might play overtime to determine the champion. 

The application of overtime rules is useful in these game structures. Basically, it assures a clear winner is crowned in an untoward situation, like a tie.

Soccer Overtime Rules

Overtime in soccer is played only when the match result is a draw. What counts as a draw? If both teams have equal goals at the end of regular time and stoppage time combined, the game is said to be a draw. 

Overtime has simple rules to follow:

  • It is used in a special soccer format when the score is tied after 90 minutes of regular play.
  • It consists of two 15-minute periods, with a 1-minute break in between.
  • After the first 15 minutes, the team switch ends so that they both can play on the field’s attacking part. This ensures both teams have an equal chance of scoring a goal.
  • The referee has the final say on whether or not to call an overtime. Usually, overtime is used if the game is tied. The referee may decide not to use overtime if the game is tied, depending on the time and physical conditions of the players.
  • The referee reserves the right to stop the clock in case of injuries and other stoppages during overtime. This differs from regular time when the clock stops only for half-time and full-time.
  • The stoppage time is added at the end of each 15-minute session. It shows that the overtime period may last more than 30 minutes. 

The Use of “Golden Goal” in Overtime

The golden goal rule is governed by association football. What did the rule entail? The rule implies that the game must end or have a clear winner if a team scores a goal. 

The rule became practical in 1993 with its application in major football competitions like the FIFA World Cup. The golden goal rule was in place for the European Championship, wherein the match ended when any team scored an additional goal in overtime. 

The golden goal rule was abolished in the year 2004. The golden goal was first experimented with in youth fixtures before scaling to top-level competitions. 

The rule is not part of any professional play. This requires the team to play the full 30-minute stretch of overtime even if one team scores first during overtime. 

The use of the golden goal rule impacted the overall game, which leaned more towards extreme defensive playing to stop goals. This called for more overtime without having a clear winner. 

The teams spent more strategy playing defensive than having to score a goal. Was this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, as you might have already guessed, this curbed the enthusiasm of the overall game and affected audience interest. 

Thus, the golden goal rule was discontinued from important competitions and leagues after the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Why Does Soccer Have 2 Overtimes?

Soccer has two 15-minute overtime periods, also known as “extra time.” What is it for? The main purpose of overtime is to allow both teams an extended opportunity to break a tie and have a clear winner. 

Scoring a goal in soccer is quite rare, and a game ending in a draw is not a satisfactory resolution. A draw or tie is certainly a problem in matches in tournament finals.  

During overtime, the skill and collective ability of the team needs to be assessed more fairly. The use of two 15-minute halves has become an accepted standard. It aligns with the conventional format of the game. 

The 15-minute session encourages the team to do their best and remain competitive. There is a crucial 1-minute (or 5-minute) break that calls for the sides to be switched.  

The team switch happens so that both teams have an opportunity to play on the attacking part of the field. This ensures both sides can strategize, make tactical adjustments, and attempt to score. 

Using two 15-minute overtime periods helps avoid the immediate use of penalty shootouts, which are often seen as a less preferable way to decide the outcome of a match. 

Player safety is also why 2 overtimes is effective, apart from increasing audience engagement. 

What Is the Difference Between Stoppage Time and Overtime

Stoppage time and Overtime are two distinct rules in soccer. They are applied during different game timelines to compensate for time lost in injury or in case the game ends in a draw. 

You might have seen that soccer has a lot of intense action, inviting injury and other untoward incidents. Addressing an injury or redressal can take time, which affects the 90-minute regular gameplay stretch. 

To compensate for the time lost during such an event, the referee allocates a few extra minutes at the end of each half. 

Stoppage time, also known as injury time or added time, refers to the extra time the referee provides at the end of each half of a soccer game.

FeatureStoppage TimeOvertime
Timeline of GameEnd of each halfAfter the full 90 minutes
LengthVaries30 minutes
Number of halvesNoneTwo 15-minute halves
PurposeTo compensate for time lostTo break a tie

Overtime, as discussed earlier, is a deliberate extension of the match. Overtime or extra time is applied when a match ends in a draw. The rule applies mostly during the knockout stages of tournaments or leagues. 

An overtime of 90 minutes is divided into two halves of equal time. This is applied after the regular time with an interval of 1 minute between each. 

The team with the most goals during overtime emerges as the winner. The penalty shootout is introduced in case overtime play ends up in a tie. 

The two 15 minutes are applied to have a fair match result instead of jumping to penalty knockout. 


Having a soccer game end with a clear winner is essential as the game tests a player’s skill and teamwork. 

Studying how overtime works in soccer is an important resource for understanding and playing the game. 

The extra 30 minutes is where legends are made, and it is a crucial part of soccer that injects excitement into the game. 

It provides an opportunity to break a tie and emerge victorious. Overtime ensures that soccer always delivers thrilling conclusions.

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