A draw is an inconclusive result that occurs when the allotted playing time for the game expires with both teams on equal scores.
Here’s what you need to know about the scenarios that take place after a draw in football.
What happens after a draw in football?
A draw is a possible result in most games. League tournaments employ the standard three-point system for a victory, with one point handed to each team in the event of a draw. However, it is necessary to determine a winner in some tournaments, such as knockout tournaments. In such situations, the Laws of the Game allow different approaches to choosing a winner.
Here are the 5 main scenarios that will happen after a football match ends in a draw:
The one-point rule is used in the majority of group-stage competitions in the event of a draw. When a team wins a match in a competition, it receives three points, and the teams’ cumulative point totals determine their position on the points table.
However, when a game between two teams ends in a tie —which occurs in almost 25% of all football games —both teams receive one point each. The most common method for resolving a draw is one point, but when tournaments reach the knockout phase, this rule cannot be utilised because a winner must advance to the next round of the competition.
When teams are tied, the one-point rule gives them a straightforward way to maintain parity on the points table while ignoring any disadvantage that might hamper the outcome in a different tie-breaking procedure.
The UEFA, CONCACAF and other major federations including FIFA resort to this method in most of their leagues during the group stages to resolve a draw.
You can find out more about how to read a table in football here.
#2 Extra time
Teams play extra time in football knockout competitions or competition stages if the victor of the decisive leg has not been determined at the end of a full-time. It consists of two 15-minute halves, with teams switching ends in between, and comes after a brief break of about 5 minutes during which players stay on or near the playing field.
Although extra time is listed as one of the authorised ways in the Laws of the Game, tournaments are not mandated to use extra time and are free to use any other method listed in the Laws of the Game to determine a winner.
A draw usually results in extra time in a one-off tie or decisive rematch, but only in FIFA competitions and the top-tier continental national team championships.
In two-legged games at the continental levels (such as the three-tier men’s and women’s continental club tournaments), domestic level (such as Copa Del Rey, DFB-Pokal or relegation and promotion playoffs in the Bundesliga) or even at lower levels (like the English Football League play-offs), teams only engage in the extra time in the second leg where the aggregate score has not decided a winner.
Due to the elimination of away goals, extra time is now used almost exclusively in games that end in draws so that the winner can be decided within the same day. However, if the extra time results in a draw as well, the game proceeds to the penalty shoot-outs.
Many international games in the late 1990s and early 2000s attempted to minimize “penalty shoot-outs” by implementing the “sudden death” or “golden goal” rules, which cause the game to terminate if one team has the lead after the first 15 minutes of extra time, but these have not been preserved in tournaments today.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup between Argentina and France witnessed a terrific extra-time match. Argentina lead 2-0 in the first half after Messi scored twice, but Kylian Mbappe went on to score two goals and equalised the score in the second half, and the game concluded 2-2. The match then went to extra time, where Messi scored a goal and Mbappe again pulled the score even.
Argentina then went on and won the World Cup after defeating France in the penalty shoot-outs 4-2.
#3 Penalty shoot-out
When the score is deadlocked after regular time and extra time has passed, a penalty shoot-out is used to decide which team wins the game in a football game that cannot result in a draw. Each team is given five kicks, each of which must be made by a different kicker; the winning team is the one with the most successful kicks.
As soon as one team gets an overwhelming lead, the shootout is over. After five pairs of shots, if the scores are tied, the shootout proceeds to “sudden death” rounds. Goals scored during a shootout are tallied separately from goals scored during regular play (including extra time) and do not contribute toward the totals for either the kickers or the team.
There are some variations even though the process for each individual kick in the shoot-out is similar to a penalty kick. Most importantly, after the ball is kicked, neither the kicker nor any other player—aside from the goalkeeper—may play the ball again.
A shootout is often only utilised if none of the previous tie-breaking methods succeeds in determining a winner.
To learn more about penalty shootouts, you can check out my article here.
#4 The away goals rule (Two-legged matches only)
The away goal rule is used to break draws in football where teams play each other twice, once at their respective home grounds. This rule is frequently used during two-leg matches where the first outcome is determined by the aggregate score or the total of scores from the two games.
In the away goals method, if the total goals scored by each team is equal, the team that has scored more goals “away from home,” or on the opponent’s ground, wins.
In many competitions, the away goals rule serves as the initial tie-breaker, and if both teams have the same number of away goals, the penalty shootout acts as the final tie-breaker.
UEFA used the away goals rule for the first time in the 1965-66 European Cup Winners’ Cup. The proposal to eliminate the away goals rule in all UEFA club competitions beginning with the 2021–22 season was approved by UEFA on June 24, 2021.
However, many CONCACAF leagues, including Liga MX, continue to apply the away goal rule to decide the winner in the event of a draw, with the rule holding no value in the finals.
#5 Golden Goal (no longer in use)
The golden goal has never been used in the case of a drawn game during the knockout round since the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. In association football, the golden goal idea is viewed as a failed experiment.
Although North American professional association football leagues began using the golden goal system in the 1970s, FIFA established the phrase “golden goal” along with the rule change in 1993 for the alternate term, “sudden death,”.
In a knockout competition, two fifteen-minute overtime sessions were played after a draw. The game finished immediately and the side that scored first was declared the winner if either team scored during extra time. The “golden goal” was the winning goal.
How does this apply to different competitions?
In the event of a tie, the match’s result is decided by the methods listed above, with the exception of the golden goal and the away goals rule. Varied tournament formats call for different applications of these scenarios.
#1 Domestic league competitions (Draw)
In a domestic league tournament, the draws are settled by the one-point rule. Instead of the standard three-point victory, both teams receive one point and move on to the next game. However, if a draw occurs in the knockout phase of the tournament, the one-point rule does not apply and alternative tie-breaking methods are used to conclude the winner.
#2 Domestic league tournaments (Knockouts)
In the knockout stages of domestic league tournaments like the FA Cup, a winner must be decided by the end of the game. In the event of a draw, the match would continue in extra time, which consists of two 15-minute halves. If the score is tied even after extra time, the penalty shootouts take place and the team with the highest number of goals is declared the victor.
One such instance of outstanding overtime occurred in the Capital One Cup 2012 match between Reading and Arsenal. Reading played phenomenally and lead 4-0 after the first half. Arsenal then launched a tremendous comeback equalising the score at 4-4 and eventually prevailed 5-7 after the game entered extra time.
#3 Continental Cups (Group stage+Knockouts)
The continental cups such as UEFA Champions League follow the same one-point rule in case of a draw in the group stage, both the competing teams are awarded one point each while in the knockouts, extra time followed by a penalty shootout is used to decide the victor.
You can find out what happens if 2 teams end up with the same number of points during the group stage here.
During the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, a historic football match was played between AC Milan and Liverpool which resorted to extra time for a tie-breaker.
AC Milan thoroughly dominated Liverpool in the first half, taking a commanding 3-0 lead. Liverpool staged a comeback in the second half when Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer, and Xabi Alonso scored goals in a remarkable six-minute stretch to tie the game at 3-3.
Naturally, the match went to extra time where both the teams failed to score a single goal which led to the game being resorted to penalty shootouts to determine the winner. Liverpool lifted the cup after defeating AC Milan 3-2 in the shootouts.
#4 World Cup (Group stage + Knockouts)
The FIFA World Cup uses the same tie-breaking procedures as domestic and continental competitions. In the group stages, the one-point rule is applied, and in the event of a draw in the knockout stages, the extra time and penalty shootouts are implemented.
Another thrilling penalty shootout victory was observed in the 2006 World Cup Final between France and Italy. Zinedine Zidane of France and Marco Materazzi of Italy were the two players who received the most attention throughout the game because it was Zidane’s final match before retiring after headbutting Materazzi during extra time.
The score was tied 1-1 by the end of the full time as well as extra time. Eventually, Italy won the World Cup after defeating France 5-3 in the shootouts.
There are multiple ways to determine the winner in the event of a tie in a football game, but the techniques listed above are those that have been approved by the laws of games. Different tournaments use these methods in various ways, and the circumstances vary depending on the stage of the competition.
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