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Can Soccer Games End In A Tie? How It Affects Scoring

Soccer is one of the most popular sports to watch, but if you’re new to the game, you may be wondering if the match could end in a tie. Well, after hours of digging, I’ve got an answer for you.

Soccer games can end in a tie if they are not part of a knockout round, like the World Cup knockout stage for example. Most group stages or league matches are allowed to end in a tie, which gives each team one point towards their league total, rather than 3 points for winning or no points for losing.

But how do you settle a tie in a knockout round when there needs to be a winning team? Let’s go into more detail about that, and some other helpful info about soccer game ties.

Soccer Tie Rules

A tie in soccer is called after each team has scored the same amount of goals after the full 90 minutes of game-play. On average, soccer games end in a draw 14-20 percent of the time. Each league has their own way of dealing with a tie, but they all follow they same relative guidelines. What really matters, is whether it’s a knockout round or not.

Lets start by talking about a standard group stage or league match where the game winner is awarded league points to advance through the season. Then we’ll talk about knockout rounds, and how the winner is decided in games that require a winning team be selected.

Group Stage Or League Match

These types of games are the majority of soccer games that get played in most leagues. In fact, even the World Cup will settle a tie this way up until about round 16 when the cup enters the knockout rounds.

When teams are playing in a league, they will be earning league point throughout the season which ends up deciding who will go onto the knockout rounds in the finals. Until then, point are dished out by winning a game, losing a game, or ending in a tie.

OutcomePoints Allotted
Team Wins Game3
Team Loses Game0
Game Ends In A Tie1

By the end of the season, the teams with the most points will move into the final rounds, which will typically be knockout rounds that require a winner be selected at the end of the game. But in these regular season, group stage or league matches, the game will end after 90 minutes and the points will be allotted based on the final score.

Tie Issues

Now this might raise some questions as to which team gets to advance to the finals or out of the group stage when ties are allowed. What if multiple teams tie often enough that their league scores are all the same? Who advances?

Here’s a great video that breaks down what happens when teams are tied for league points, and how it’s decided who moves forward.

Knockout Stage

The knockout rounds or knockout stages are usually reserved for the finals. When there are a limited number of teams left to play, and a winner of a particular match must be decided, the game can not end in a tie. There are no tie issues or points issues in the knockout rounds.

This is where overtime and penalty kick shoot-outs come into play. These are the most nerve wracking moments of the game, and you better believe every fan is on the edge of their seat. Personally, I love watching penalty kick shoot-outs, and the players are usually more aggressive during overtime, making for some exciting game-play.


If the game is tied at the end of 90 minutes of game-play in a knockout round or finals round, the game goes into overtime. Two 15 minutes stretches of overtime play equaling a total of 30 minutes of overtime game-play.

The team with the highest score after overtime play, wins the game. If the game is still tied after overtime, the game goes into a penalty kick shout-out. Overtime is some of the most intense moments of soccer I have had the pleasure of watching.

Here’s a video showing some of the most epic last minute goals in World Cup history. Not all of these are in overtime, but some of them are. Notice how pumped the stands get, and even the announcers.

Penalty Kick Shoot-Out

Sometimes simply referred to as the PK Shoot-Out, the penalty kick shoot-out is the funnest time you can have not playing soccer. These shoot-outs can be some of the most intense moments of the game. Think about it, after 90 minutes of game-play the winner is decided by a penalty kick. There’s a lot of pressure on the kickers and the goalie in these shoot-outs.

To start, each team picks 5 players who were on the field at the end of the game. Each player gets one shot at the goal from the penalty kick mark. After each team has taken 5 penalty kicks, the team with the most points wins. Teams used to take turns taking the penalty kicks, but more recently they have been trying a new approach.

Team 1 will kick, then team 2 will kick twice, then team 1 will kick twice, and so on. It would look something like this.

Kick NumberTeam To Kick
1Team 1
2Team 2
3Team 2
4Team 1
5Team 1
6Team 2
7Team 2
8Team 1
9Team 1
10Team 2

The reason they started doing it this way, was to eliminate any psychological advantage a team would have by kicking first.

If the score is still tied after a penalty kick shoot-out, the game moves into what’s called a sudden death shoot-out. Exciting, I know. What happens is the teams start taking turns taking penalty kicks again, and the first team to score wins the game. This eliminates a tied game altogether.

Here’s a clip showing the Brazil vs Portugal penalty shoot-out in the 2015 FIFA World Cup so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

It may seem odd to end a game this way, but it must be done. After all, when you’re deciding who the best soccer team in the world is, it can’t be a tie. Someone’s the best, and this is how they find that out. Now, here are some common questions I get about tie games in soccer.

What Is A Tie In Soccer Called?

A tie in soccer is called a tie game or a draw. When both teams end a league or group match (not in a knockout round) with same amount of goals scored, the game will end as a tie game. A draw in soccer simply means the game ended in a tie.

Some other popular synonyms for tie game you may hear:

  • Standoff
  • Neck and neck
  • Even money
  • Draw
  • Blanket Finish
  • Wash
  • Without a difference

What Happens If The Score Is 0-0 In Soccer

If the soccer game ends with a score of 0-0, the game ends in a tie if it’s a league match. In a knockout round, there must be a winner so the game will go into 30 minutes of overtime play. If the score is still tied after overtime the teams will enter into a penalty kick shoot-out.

If the game ends in a tie (0-0) in a league match the game ends then, both teams will get 1 league point, instead of 3 for winning or 0 for losing. These points are added to the teams total league points for the season.

What If The World Cup Ends In A Tie

If the World Cup ends in a tie, FIFA regulation states that there will be 2 extra periods, 15 minutes each, of overtime to decide the winner. If the score is still tied after overtime play, the teams will enter a penalty kick shoot-out to decide the winner of the World Cup. The World Cup will only have one winning team as the outcome.

These are some of the most exciting moments in soccer. When you have some of the best soccer players in the world sending the game into overtime or a penalty kick shoot-out, you know it’s a good match up.

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