Football matches are tied when both teams score the same number of goals. In league matches the game finishes after 90 minutes regardless of the score, with tied matches awarding a point to both teams.
If the match is a tournament game that needs a winner to progress, extra time and penalties are used to decide who goes through. “What happens if they tie in penalties?” You may ask in fear of some sort of brawl breaking out to confirm a winner.
In the case of a tied penalty shootout, sudden death is triggered. In this scenario round after round of penalties are played until one team scores without the other scoring. In some cases sudden death can end up going more rounds than the initial 5.
Can a Penalty Shootout End in a Tie?
Penalty shootouts are mostly used for knockout matches. In group stages, penalty shootouts aren’t needed as the points can be divided between the two teams.
The same can’t be said for the less forgiving knockout stages, so a penalty shoot out is used as a decider.
- Firstly, the two team captains toss a coin to decide which side of the pitch they will use for the shootout. Taking penalties in front of your own fans can make things a lot easier, but the other team now gets to pick whether they go first or second in the shootout, which can bring its own psychological advantages
- Next, the teams must finalize and confirm the order in which the players are going to take the penalties. The same player can’t take more than one shot in the penalty shootout unless all players have already taken one.
- Five shots are taken alternatively, one at a time, at the same goalpost that was chosen in the coin toss.
- If both teams manage to score an equal amount of goals, in the first 5 penalties, the match enters a sudden-death scenario.
What is a “Sudden Death” Scenario?
An important aspect of a penalty shootout is the “Sudden Death” scenario.
If the score remains level after the first five shots, the shoot out is still undecided, and sudden death comes into effect.
In this situation, the teams continue to take round after round of penalties. However, if one team manages to score their 7th shot, for example, but the other team fails to do so, the scoring team will be declared the victor.
Can a Penalty Shootout End in a Draw?
Although rare, there’s occasionally shootouts that are still tied after all 22 players have taken a penalty. The rules state that a player cannot take more than one penalty in a shoot out, so how is a winner decided?
In these cases, the penalty takers are reset, and the teams continue sudden death with the first players stepping up a second time. From here the only way to end the agony is for one of the teams to miss when the other scores. At some point a winner is found, but there have been rare cases of shootouts spanning over 15 rounds!
What was the Longest Penalty Shootout?
Although it is extremely unlikely for penalty shootouts to go beyond 8 rounds of shots, there have been multiple instances where the game has dragged on far longer than anybody would have anticipated.
Back in 2014, Middlesbrough and Liverpool faced off against each other in the Carabao Cup. The goalkeepers Simon Mignolet and Jamal Blackman saved one a-piece out of the initial 5 penalties, with Blackman saving Liverpool’s 5th penalty to keep Middlesbrough in the tie.
Little did he know that from here every subsequent penalty would be converted until the 14th round, with both Blackman and Mignolet comfortably converting against each other.
It would be Middlesbrough winger Albert Adomah who would end the misery, shanking his second penalty of the shoot out wide. As Liverpool had scored first this ended the tie, bringing sweet relief to all, even the Boro fans.
In the post match interview, Adomah revealed he had no idea his miss had lost the game, only realising after turning around and seeing the Liverpool players celebrating and his Middlesbrough teammates making their way over to console him.
However, the longest shootout was between Washington and Bedlington, both of which are 10th-tier English clubs. In March 2022, a match between the two led to a total of 54 penalties. Finally, Washington won the penalty by scoring 25 penalties. In this shootout, half of the players had to take a penalty three times!.
The penalty shootout is a cruel yet definitive decider for closely contested matches.
Now that you know the FIFA rules on the dreaded penalty shootout; hopefully, you’ll have an easy time sitting through football’s most harrowing scenario next time you are forced to endure the soul crushing nerves of penalties.