Breaking Down How the FIFA World Cup Extra Time Rules Work


Sometimes 90 minutes of soccer isn’t enough.

That’s not the case in group play of the World Cup, where games tied after regulation end in a draw, with both teams receiving a point in the standings. But more than 90 minutes of soccer occasionally is needed in the elimination round of the tournament, creating some of the sport’s most thrilling moments.   

If a victor has not been declared after two 45-minute halves during the elimination rounds of the World Cup, the game goes to extra time. So, when a player scores in extra time, does it mean the game is over, like in the NHL? Not exactly.

Here’s everything you need to know about extra time in the World Cup:

How long is extra time during the World Cup?

After regulation has been completed and the two teams remain tied, there is a five-minute break before extra time begins. 

Extra time in the World Cup consists of two 15-minute sessions, with a one-minute break in between. 

The golden goal rule, awarding the victory to the first team that scores, does not apply in the World Cup. The full 30 minutes of extra time is played in its entirety.

What happens if a World Cup game is tied after extra time?

Sometimes even 120 minutes of soccer isn’t enough.

If the score remains tied after both of the 15-minute extra time sessions, the two teams then go to penalty kicks. 

The best-of-five shootout features one-on-one situations between the kicker and the opposing goalkeeper. Teams must use different kickers for each attempt, alternating attempts with the opposing team. Kicks are taken from the penalty mark, which is 12 yards from the goal. 

Once the shootout lead is insurmountable, the game is over. If still tied through five rounds of penalty kicks, the shootout goes to sudden death. The first team to have an advantage after a completed round is declared the winner of the game.

How many World Cup Finals have gone to extra time? 

Of the 21 World Cup finals that have been played, seven have gone to extra time. 

The first World Cup final to reach extra time was in 1934, which was just the second time the tournament was held after debuting in 1930. Italy defeated Czechoslovakia 2-1 after Angelo Schiavio scored the game-winner with five minutes remaining in extra time. 

It would be more than 30 years before another World Cup final reached extra time, with England defeating West Germany 4-2 in 1966, with the go-ahead goal scored by Geoff Hurst becoming one of the most controversial moments in World Cup history.

Prior to 2018, when France defeated Croatia in regulation, the previous three World Cup finals went to extra time. It is the only time in tournament history that consecutive finals reached extra time. 

How many World Cup Finals have gone to penalty kicks? 

Only twice in roughly 90 years have penalty kicks been needed to determine the winner of the World Cup. 

It first occurred in 1994 when, after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer at the Rose Bowl in California, Brazil defeated Italy 3-2 in a shootout. Not only was it the first final to be decided by penalties, it was the first time a final was scoreless after regulation, and it remains the only time a final has been scoreless following extra time.

After Brazilian captain Dunga scored in the fifth round to give his team the advantage, a shot by Italy’s Dino Baggio went over the crossbar, giving Brazil the World Cup victory.

Twelve years later, Italy once again was involved in a World Cup shootout. Tied 1-1 after extra time at Olympiastadion in Germany, Italy’s kickers converted on all five penalties, with the winner coming off the foot of Fabio Grosso for a 5-3 shootout victory and Italy’s fourth World Cup win.  

Here are the results from the World Cup finals that reached extra time and, if needed, penalty kicks:

1934: Italy 2, Czechoslovakia 1

1966: England 4, West Germany 2

1978: Argentina 3, Netherlands 1

1994: Brazil 0, Italy 0 (Brazil wins shootout, 3-2)

2006: Italy 1, France 1 (Italy wins shootout, 5-3)

2010: Spain 1, Netherlands 0

2014: Germany 1, Netherlands 0

Contact Us