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Soccer (Football)

Stoppage time, extra time and penalty shootouts explained

So what do these terms mean, and how can they affect the overall outcome of the match?
By Michael Burgess II
5 min readPublished on
A standard soccer match is 90 minutes of action split into two 45-minute halves. Even with injuries, substitutions, goals, and their subsequent celebrations, the clock never stops running.
But at the end of each half, and sometimes at the end of the match, additional time is added to the clock. It can be in the form of stoppage time, extra time, or a penalty shootout.
So what do these terms mean, and how can they affect the overall outcome of the match? A great way to understand them is to see them in action at a New York Red Bulls match, but if you can't catch one, below we break it down for you!

Stoppage Time, Extra Time and Penalty Shootouts Explained

New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls

© Getty Im


Stoppage Time

Stoppage time accounts for time that was lost during a 90-minute match. In addition to injuries, subs, and goal celebrations, a team could in theory, stall to run out the clock.
To account for these stops, the head referee keeps a count of how much time those events took from start to finish. The referee totals that time up, and adds time to the end of each half to make up for the time that was lost. This added time is called stoppage time.
It’s been reported that the concept was born in 1891, after a match between Stoke City and Aston Villa.
Trailing 1-0 in the final moments of the match, Stoke City was awarded a penalty kick for a chance to tie the game. Aware of the situation, Aston Villa’s goalkeeper kicked the ball out of the stadium. Since the clock never stopped running, time in the match ran out before the ball was recovered. Stoppage time was implemented shortly thereafter to stop something like that from ever happening again.
New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls

© Getty Images

Regardless of whether a match is a blowout or a tough draw, nearly all matches receive some stoppage time at the end of each half. While the amount of stoppage time added to the end of an half is at the discretion of the referee, there is a general rule of thumb for certain stoppages:
  • 30 seconds for every goal scored
  • 15 seconds for every substitution
  • 15 seconds for every foul
The record for the most stoppage time added to the end of a match is 28 minutes. It occurred three years ago in a Carabao Cup match between English League One side Burton and Premier League side Bournemouth. A power outage at the stadium took so long to recover that the head referee almost abandoned the match before league officials stepped in and called for the match to continue. Burton would go on to win the match 2-0.

Extra Time

After stoppage time ends, the game is usually over. But what if it’s a game that needs a winner and the score is tied? That’s where extra time comes in.
If a game is tied at the end of the second half, the game may go into extra time: an additional 30-minute period split into two 15-minute halves. Even if one team scores, the two halves are played to completion. Just like in regulation halves, stoppage time can be added to the extra time.

© Getty Images

Extra time is typically seen in single-match tournament competitions like the MLS Playoffs or the UEFA Champions League Final. Unlike league and group stage matches, these matches can not end in a draw; there has to be a winner.
In the semifinals of the 2020-21 DFB Pokal, RB Leipzig and Werder Bremen were locked 0-0 at the end of the second half. Since this is a game that requires a winner to determine who plays in the championship, an extra time period was played to determine the winner. Leipzig would go on to win 2-1 and advance to the finals.

Penalty Shootouts

It’s very possible that even after stoppage time and extra time have run out, a game could still be tied. Perhaps neither team scored or both sides scored the same number of goals in the extra time period. So…what happens then?
A penalty shootout!
New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls

© Garth Milan

Penalty shootouts also referred to as PKs, typically happen in tournament-style events or any game that needs to have a winner. They occur after the extra time period and stoppage time if both teams are still tied.
The referee flips a coin to determine on what goal the shootout occurs and who kicks first. In a penalty shootout, each team alternates for five sets of penalty kicks. After those five sets, whoever has the most penalty kick goals wins the game.
If a penalty shootout is still tied after the initial five sets, then the shootout goes into sudden death. On a set-by-set basis, both teams will alternate taking penalty shots. If one team makes a penalty and the other does not, then the goal-scoring team is deemed the winner.
There is no limit to how long the shootout goes. As long as there’s a tie at the end of a set, then the shootout continues until a winner is decided.
For each PK, the penalty taker and the goalkeeper are alone in the box. A player in any position can take penalty kicks, including a striker like Elias Manoel or a midfielder like Lewis Morgan. A penalty kick specialist, Morgan has converted six PK attempts this season alone.


Now that you understand these concepts, you’ll notice how often these rules determine who wins and who loses a match. Stoppage time, extra time, and penalty shootouts add to the drama of an already dramatic and inspiring game. Whether it’s the first match of the season or a tense championship final, these concepts throw another wrinkle into the beautiful and complex game that is soccer.