What Happens When a Soccer Game is Tied?

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For years since the intense game of soccer began, ties have been a significant part. A tie can make or break a team’s position in the league table and even have the power to decide who is the best team in the world.

As part of the many soccer laws available, there are laws on how ties in a soccer match are handled. FIFA has laid out several ways to handle ties in soccer matches, from replays, overtime, penalties, and golden goals.

These laws are dependent on the type of league and tournament being played. The English vs. European leagues may have some similarities due to their affiliation with FIFA, but there are some pretty drastic differences.

Between  25-30% of all soccer games end in a tie, a figure that fluctuates season by season. Ties can occur when the teams playing each other are using similar tactics and strategies in the game.

During tie situations, there are three ways the tie can be resolved. The resolution for what happens next after a soccer game ends in a tie is dependent on three things.

A tie can depend on whether the game is part of a league or if it is a knockout game (solely to choose a winner).

It also depends on what kind of competition the game is a part of, as different competitions have different rules. Finally, it is dependent on whether the teams have played against each other more than once.

What Happens If a Soccer Game is Tied After 90 Minutes

The three things that can happen if a soccer game is tied after 90 minutes:

1. The Game Stops And Each Team is Awarded a Point

Most soccer games are played as part of a certain soccer league, with a goal to name an overall winner at the end of the season. Teams are pitted against each other in a fight to the finish.

Each team plays every other team at least twice until there are two final teams to determine the winner. The winning team is determined by identifying the team with the highest point count in the league by the end of the season.

To this effect, after every game, each team either gains a point or doesn’t. A winning team earns 3 points while the loser gets none. In the case of a tie, each team only receives one point.

It is not always necessary to have a winner during every game. This is because of the point system; in the end, all team points will be tallied to find a team’s league position at the end of the season.

This method occurs very often in the initial stages of the league. As the league progresses and more points are gained, it becomes critical for each soccer match to have a definitive winner and loser.

This means a game can end 0-0, with no goals from each team with each getting one point. This is called a Goalless draw.

In the instance that the game is part of a league – in the group stage of a bigger tournament, then the tie is resolved by the team’s sharing points i.e., each team gets one point.

In certain leagues like the MLS, the decider is by knockout. If the teams are on level points in the league, they are separated by their goal difference. Goal difference is the number of goals scored minus those attempted.

If goal difference is tied as well, the teams are separated by the number of goals scored, in alphabetical order (if the goals scored are also similar), and in a one-off tie-breaker in case their records are similar as well. The third option is a very rare occurrence.

In the English Premier League, if two teams are tied, the team with the highest goal difference wins. If both teams have the same goal difference, the team with the most scored goals in the season is the winner.

Depending on the league, the game can continue at the end of 90 minutes of playtime to determine a winner, if needed.

2. The Game Continues to Determine a Winner

At the sound of the ninety-minute whistle, a soccer match has reached the end of its regulated time. A winner is decided based on the team with the highest score.

In case of a tie, the referee can add extra play time to decide a winner. The extra play-time also includes a penalty shoot-out.

Overtime/ Extra Playtime

Overtime is common when a winner must be chosen, especially in the knock-out stages of competitions like the FIFA World Cup.

In the World Cup, teams are sorted into eight groups of 4 teams, each team plays against each other until there are two winners per group. The two groups with the highest point tallies move to the next round.

At this stage,  teams are chosen again with a FIFA pre-determined formula, and the knockout stage begins. Teams that lose matches are automatically eliminated. In games with a tie, extra playtime is allowed.

This extra play-time, also known as overtime, is usually two 15-minute periods. This allows each team 30 minutes extra time to increase their odds of winning by scoring.

At the end of the 30 minutes, the team with the highest score is declared the winner. Before this rule was implemented, there was a golden goal rule, where the team that scored first during overtime was declared the winner. The golden goal rule is no longer used.

Alternatively, if at the end, no team has scored more than the other, and the tie remains, they progress to the penalty shoot-out time. This particular route is one of the most thrilling parts of any soccer match.

Penalty Shootout 

During a penalty shootout, selected players from each team take turns taking a shot at the goal. The players are selected from those who were on-field at the time the final whistle blew.

The distance is marked at 11 meters (12 yards) from the goalpost. The only defense for the opposition’s team is their goalkeeper. It’s a literal heroes vs. villains’ showdown.

Each team has five chances at scoring a penalty, making it crucial to select players who are excellent shooters. Team A shoots, then Team B, in that order (ABAB) until ten shots are complete.

A new approach is used now where Team A shoots once, then Team B shoots twice, and then Team A shoots twice.

At the end of the five chances for each team, the winner is the one with the highest score. If there is none, the penalties continue until one is declared.

What happens if, after the penalty stage, the teams are still tied? It gets even more exciting as the Sudden-death shootout begins. At this point, the pressure and tension are at an all-time high. The stakes are even higher!

Sudden-death Shootout

In the sudden-death shootout, each team is allowed to make a further penalty kick until one team’s score is higher. The catch is, that each team player can only shoot once. If your team’s best striker shoots first, they cannot shoot again until every player has taken a shot. Each player shoots until one team has a higher score than the other.

To make it even more chaotic, there are extreme incidences where goalkeepers face each other. Sudden death shootouts are very rare, as a winner is usually decided at the first penalty stage.

In League games like the FA Cup, there is no extra time in other games except the Final match. In the League final, there is spare time and penalties in case of a tie.

3. A Second Game is Played

A rematch or a second game is often played when the above option fails to provide a winner. This is a far-fetched solution because, in many cases, the winner is decided at the penalty stage.

Rematches were popular before FIFA brought in the provision for penalties as a tiebreaker. It is used in very few competitions today.

The second game allows each team to rest and re-strategize to ensure a win.

In the case of an FA Cup knockout competition, a rematch or replay is done. This is because, in this case, teams are no longer playing for points, but the games are an elimination process until a final winner remains.

The rematch is usually fixed a week after the first game and is on the opposing team’s home field.

These replays are less common and mostly occur in the first four rounds. After Round 16, replays are not accepted as a way to break ties. In the past, replays have been done more than once, but this option is no longer available.


It’s important to note that a tie in a soccer game is also known as a draw. A draw can be 0-0, 1-1,2-2, or 4-4, etc. It’s in such instances when one of the above scenarios takes place to decide the overall winner of the match.

Ties make soccer even more exciting. It allows for more goals, and the players get to show off their shooting expertise as they aim to score. Penalty kicks have created some of the best and most memorable moments in soccer history.

Ties are especially thrilling in World Cup Finals and League finals as teams are battling it out for major titles.

Ties in soccer matches can also show that the team is well-matched and their strategies are similar, requiring them to make even bolder moves in the overtime and penalty stages.

In the end, soccer matches that end in a tie after the 90-minute play time either end in each team getting one point or overtime is added with penalties, sudden death shootouts, or rematches. Soccer matches with ties or draws can be very tense and a make-or-break situation for many teams.

The three scenarios above ensure the teams get to make the most out of the situation, with shared points and ultimately an overall winner.

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