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Can Soccer End in A Tie? And What Happens After That?

Can Soccer End in A Tie? And What Happens After That?

Worthy of mention here is one of the greatest ties of all-time between the Latin American giants, Brazil and Argentina – they’ve competed against each other, a record 111 times. Argentina has won 46 matches while Brazil has 40 matches to their win. 25 of these matches ended in a tie.

In 2004, Argentina and Brazil faced off against each other in the final of Copa America. At the end of 90 minutes of full-time gameplay, the result was a 2-2 draw. However, Brazil went on to win the game 4-2 in the penalty.

Have you ever heard of a tie-breaker? What does it involve? What qualified Brazil as the winner?

In this article, we’ll closely examine the nature of soccer games that end in a tie and why, and also when a winner must emerge. We’ll also be taking note of rules that guide the declaration of a ‘winner’ in various kinds of games/tournaments.

Yes. This is the simple answer but a lot depends on the type of tournament and the stage of the said tournament. The rules of football are universally the same all over the world.

There are numerous cases when a game reaches the end of regular play (including the additional time the referee allowed to be added at the end of each half).

When a soccer game ends in a tie, it’s only natural for the spectators and fans of each team to want a win for the respective teams. In actuality, it’s not unusual for soccer games to end in a tie. It is estimated that about 40% of soccer games end in ties.

Many matches end in a tie as long as it’s not a major tournament round. For instance, group stages in the Champions League can end in a tie. The Group Stages are graded in a point system, where a win equates to 3 points and a draw a 1 point.

The essence of this is to determine the best 2 teams from each of the league groups. For this reason, a tie is allowed here because it would still count for a point.

When teams advance into the Knockout stages, the point-based system no longer applies. A clear win is needed to determine which team will proceed further in the tournament.

Van Dijk use his shoulder to push the opponent

What Happens if Soccer Ends in a Tie?

It is 2020/2021 FA Cup Round 3 – single-leg games. Burnley and Milton Keynes Dons face off at Turf Moor, which is home ground for Burnley.

At the end of the first half, MK Dons led the game with a single goal. The second half began with high hopes for the home team but saw them struggle to register.

90 minutes of play was over but the referee allowed an additional 3 minutes of play. Burnley would equalize at the 4th minute (an extra overlooked minute by the referee). This single goal at this crucial moment put the game in a tie.

The nature of this tournament at the stage it was in – Round 3 single leg – would require a clear winner to proceed. Automatically, the referee would take the game to Extra time.

With no winner at the end of Extra time, the referee took the game to penalties where a winner must emerge. Burnley would later come out victorious with a 4-3 scoreline.

Another interesting example in that same round of games in that Tournament was between Newport County and Brighton. It ended in a tie after 90 minutes of play and a winner had to be determined by taking the game to penalties.

It is recorded that half of the Euro 2021 Round of 16 ended in ties after regulation; one in both quarterfinals and semifinals ended in a tie as well.

Tournament Types

According to the official tournament rules for the European Championships, after the 90 minutes of regulation, and the score remains tied, two courses of action can be taken:

  • Extra Time – comprising 2 halves of 15 minutes of play each.
  • Penalty – A Penalty Kick shootout follows if no winner emerges after the extra time.

Three Euro 2021 matches proceeded to penalty kicks from six matches that went into extra time.

For the UEFA Champions League 21/22, some rules have been removed. For instance, the away goals no longer count as doubles.

Neymar and Messi

Whenever there was an aggregate score in the old rule, goals scored away from home were recorded as double which brought about the inclination on the home teams to refuse defeat by every means.

In essence, it granted the visiting team in the second leg an unjust advantage if the game went to extra time. From 2021/2022, games ending with a tie after the second leg will advance to extra time and a penalty shootout, if need be. This would be the case, regardless of the number of away goals that a team has scored.

For Beach Soccer, after the preliminary matches, each team will be ranked based on their performance. This ranking shows how the teams will meet in the rounds to follow. Three points constitute a win, in overtime, two points constitute a win, kicks from the spot win one point, win by forfeit is three points, and losing is zero. The team that has the most points places first.

Two different tiebreakers apply here. One, to determine which team gets to advance to the playoffs, and two, for elimination games.

To determine which team will go to the playoffs in the advent of a tie, tiebreaker rules apply thus:

  • Winner of the head-to-head competition
  • Least goals allowed during the preliminary matches
  • Goal differential (Max +8 games)
  • Most Goals Scored
  • Coin toss

In the case of three teams tied to one position, head-to-head competition is ignored and the determinant begins from the least goals allowed. A match canceled by the Committee will be awarded a 0-0 tie.

For elimination games, in the round-robin tournament play, in the case of tied scores at the end of the 3 periods, the teams will play one full 3-minute overtime period. Penalty kicks follow if the tie remains.

The best of three kicks from the spot applies. Both teams take three kicks alternately until one team scores more goals than the other from the same number of kicks. If the tie persists, penalty kicks continue until sudden death.

In Street Soccer, when a match ends in a tie, the winner is determined by penalty shootouts until one team has a goal higher than the other when both teams have taken the same number of penalty kicks.

In such matches where the winner is decided upon by penalty shootouts, while the winning team gets 3 points, the losing team is awarded one point. This is for mini-tournaments.

What is it Called When a Game Ends in a Tie in Soccer?

It is called a draw. When two playing teams end up with the same amount of goals at the end of 90 minutes of gameplay, this can be referred to as a draw.

A draw means that the game ended in a tie. You will hear this term more outside of North America. It means the same thing as a tie.

If it’s a knockout game like the ones aforementioned in the FA Cup 2020-21, it cannot end in a draw.

Another popular example is the World Cup knockout stage. Generally, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals need tiebreakers to go on.

substitute soccer players are sitting on the bench

Can Olympic Soccer End in a Tie?

Yes, it can, depending on the stage of the competition. There are 2 distinct stages of the Olympic Tournament: the group stage and the knockout stage.

The first stage of the Olympic Soccer competition is the group stage where teams are sorted into groups of four teams. This applies to both the men’s and women’s Olympic tournaments.

The teams play each other once in the group to accumulate points. The universal soccer point-based system is also used in this tournament.

  • Win – 3 points
  • Draw – 1 point
  • Loss – 0 point

The general rules of soccer apply here in this tournament. The game will consist of 2 halves with a run playtime of 45 minutes each. Additional minutes added for stoppage during plays are at the discretion of the presiding referee.

As long as the tournament is at the group stage, the match will come to an end after a full 90 minutes of play.

Just like in the Champions League, the two top teams of each group proceed to the quarter-final stage. In the women’s tournament, it includes the two third-place finishers.

Beginning at the quarterfinals (knockout stage), a winner must emerge for the tournament to advance to the next leg.

Teams that are tied must play an extra time of 30 minutes – 15 minutes for each half. A penalty shootout follows if there’s still no winner after these 30 minutes of play.

Five players are selected from each team to take shots from the penalty spot. The aim is to beat the goalkeeper and score a goal. In the end, the team with the most goals wins the match.

Does the tie remain? In other words, all five players from each team score their penalty shootout, then the penalty kick-outs continue until there’s a winner. This is called “sudden death”.

What is Sudden death?

Each team produces a player, besides the 5 that already took part in the initial penalty shootout. If the first team taking the shot scores, the other team must score their penalty to remain in the game. If the first team misses their penalty, the other team has to score to win the game.

If both teams continue to score their shots or continue to lose, the game will drag out until a clear winner is established.

All players of both teams, including their goalkeeper, will have to attempt taking the shot. But all players have taken a shot and there’s still no winner? Then each team begins again from the first player until a winner emerges.

Olympic gold medals

Can Premier League Games End in a Tie?

Yes, it can. The Premier League consists of 20 teams competing for the crown to be English champions. This is the most-watched league in the world. Each team will play against the other teams on the table twice. They do this by playing at Home and Away.

Home play is often used to describe a match when a team is playing at their home ground. An Away match, on the other hand, refers to when the same said team visits the home ground of another team.

The point system remains the same with 3 points given in honor of a win, one for a draw, and zero for loss. A total of 380 matches are played in the Premier League; when all home and away matches are completely played.

It is the highest-ranking league on English grounds. Teams compete to stay in the league or get relegated. The last 3 teams on the table, get relegated to a lower league – Championship.

Since teams are ranked according to accumulated points, the 3 teams with the least points get knocked off the league table, while the top three teams from the Championship get promoted to the English Premier League.

Adama Traore use his shoulder to shield the ball


Generally, it’s usual and quite normal to find matches that end up in ties. Several tournaments have numerous records of these.

The winner is decided upon based on the tiebreaker that the regulating bodies of that soccer type or tournament have come up with.