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Own goal

An own goal is when a player scores in their team's net or scoring area, not the opposing team's, during sports games in which points-scored are referred to as "goals" (e.g., football). An own goal is usually accidental, and may result from an attempt at a defensive play that either failed or was unexpectedly intercepted by an opposing player. It is considered to be one of the more embarrassing blunders in all of sports. An own goal is counted as a regular goal.

In some parts of the world, the term has become a metaphor for any action that backfires on the person/group undertaking it—sometimes even carrying a sense of "poetic justice".[1] During The Troubles, for instance, it acquired a specific metaphorical meaning: referring to an IED (improvised explosive device) that detonated prematurely, killing the very person making/planting the bomb with the intent to harm only others.[2]


  • Association football 1
  • Other sports 2
    • Ice hockey 2.1
    • Field hockey 2.2
    • Basketball 2.3
    • American football 2.4
    • Gaelic football 2.5
    • Australian rules football 2.6
  • Notable own goals 3
    • Association football 3.1
    • Ice hockey 3.2
    • Basketball 3.3
      • College basketball 3.3.1
    • American football 3.4
    • Floorball 3.5
  • References 4

Association football

In association football, an own goal occurs when a player causes the ball to go into his or her own team's goal, resulting in a goal being scored for the opposition.

The fact that the defending player touches the ball last does not automatically mean that the goal is recorded as an own goal. Only if the ball would not have gone past the goal-line but for the defending player would an own goal be credited. Thus a shot which is already "on target" would not be an own goal even if deflected by the defender. In this case the attacker is awarded the goal, even if the shot would have otherwise been easily saved by the goalkeeper. Some scorers will give credit to the attacker if the defender's mistake caused the own goal, similar to ice hockey. The Laws of the Game do not stipulate any rules or procedures for crediting goals to players, and indeed such records are not a compulsory part of the game.

The defending player who scored the own goal is personally "credited" with the goal as part of the statistical abstract of the game. The credit is annotated "(og)" to indicate its nature.

The Laws stipulate that an own goal cannot be scored directly (i.e., without any other player touching the ball) from a throw-in, free kick (direct or indirect), corner kick, dropped ball or goal kick. Should any of these situations occur, a corner kick is instead awarded to the attacking team.

Other sports

When they occur in other sports, own goals are not "credited" in the same manner as in football, but instead credited towards the attacker whose attempt forced the defensive error.

Ice hockey

If a goal is scored by a player on the defending team, credit for the goal goes to the last player on the other team to have touched the puck; this is because own goals in hockey are typically cases where the player so credited had the shot deflected, but this convention is used even where this is not the case. Occasionally, it is also credited to the closest player to the goal from the other team if he is determined to have caused the opposing player to shoot it into the wrong net. On seven occasions in the NHL, players have directed the puck into their own empty net, either late in the game or because of a delayed penalty call. This was the situation which resulted in Billy Smith of the New York Islanders becoming the first goaltender to receive credit for a goal in the NHL.

Field hockey

If a goal is scored by a player on the defending team, as of September 2012, it is treated as if the defending player played the ball over the back line. If the ball was played over the back line unintentionally, or off the goalkeeper, a long corner is awarded to the opposing team. If the ball was played over the back line deliberately, then a penalty corner is awarded to the opposing team.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced that in its 2012 rules revision, that from 1 January 2013, a "mandatory experiment" will be introduced in which if the ball touches or is played by a player of the defending team in the shooting circle, and then travels over the goal line without first leaving the circle, then it will be counted as an "own goal" against the defending team.[3]


When accidentally scoring at an opposing team's basket (basketball's equivalent of an "own goal"), the goal is credited to an offensive player.

In NCAA basketball, the rules state: "When a player scores a field goal in the opponent’s basket, it shall count two points for the opponent regardless of the location on the playing court from where it was released. Such a field goal shall not be credited to a player in the scorebook but shall be indicated with a footnote."

In NBA rules, the goal is credited to the player on the scoring team who is closest to defensive shooter and is mentioned in a footnote.

Under FIBA rules, the player designated captain is credited with the basket. In NFHS (National Federation of High Schools—United States), the two points are merely listed for the team, as a footnote.

American football

When a ball carrier is tackled or exits the field of play within the end zone being defended by his team, the result is a safety and the opposing team is awarded two points, and receives the ball after a free kick taken at the twenty-yard line. (This does not apply if the ball carrier secures possession of the ball in the end zone as a result of an interception or a kick; in that case, no points are awarded and the play is considered a touchback.) In Canadian football, if a scrimmage kick (punt or missed field goal attempt) is kicked into the end zone and the opponent does not advance it out, the kicking team is awarded a single, worth one point.

A true "own goal", in which the team place kicks or drop kicks the ball through their own goal posts (which has never happened at any level in football history and would require a deliberate act of sabotage to actually occur), is treated as any other backward kick in most leagues' rule books. Backward kicks are treated as fumbles, and as such, a backward kick through the back of the end zone, including through the goal posts, would be scored a safety.

In the final minutes of a game, a team may take a deliberate safety in order to get the free kick, rather than punting from the end zone. In 2003, the New England Patriots came back to win a Monday Night Football game after giving a safety that put them three points behind.[4]

Gaelic football

Gaelic footballers can play the ball with their hands; therefore, they have a much greater degree of control over the ball and thus, own goals are much rarer than they are in association football. They do occur, such as one scored by Paddy Andrews in a 2009 O'Byrne Cup match.[5] It is common for a defender or goalkeeper to block a shot on goal, causing it to go over the crossbar, scoring a point, but this is never considered an "own point".

Australian rules football

As a legitimate defensive play, an Australian rules football defender may concede an "own score." Such a score, referred to as a rushed behind and statistically credited to no player (score sheets simply include the tally of rushed behinds), results in the opposition team scoring one point. A defending player may choose to concede a rushed behind when the risk of the opposition scoring a goal (worth six points) is high. It is impossible for a team to concede an own goal worth six points.

Notable own goals

Notable instances in sports where players scored an own goal.

Association football

  • 1888: The first own goal ever registered in The Football League was scored by Aston Villa's Gershom Cox in a match against Wolverhampton Wanderers.[6]
  • 1967: Gary Sprake, goalkeeper for Leeds United, scored an own goal in a 2–0 defeat to Liverpool whilst attempting to throw the ball to a defender.[7]
  • 1976: Chris Nicholl scored all four goals in a 2–2 draw between Aston Villa and Leicester City on 20 March 1976.[8]
  • 1977: Pat Kruse of Torquay United scored the fastest recorded own goal in English senior football, after six seconds of the match.
  • 1978: Ernie Brandts became the only player in the FIFA World Cup to score for both teams in one match, doing so for Netherlands against Italy.
  • 1991: Lee Dixon, defender for Arsenal, scored in his own net in a 2–1 defeat against Coventry City by lobbing goalkeeper David Seaman whilst attempting to pass the ball to him.[7]
  • 1992: Brian Gayle, defender for Sheffield United, headed the final goal of a 3–2 defeat against Leeds United into his own net in the penultimate game of the 91/92 Division 1 season, which saw Leeds take the Division 1 title from Manchester United.[9]
  • 1992: Steve Walsh, defender for Leicester City, scored a stoppage time own goal in the final round of the 91/92 Division 2 season against Newcastle United. The goal meant that Newcastle won 2-1, which kept them in Division 2, while Leicester City went on to play Cambridge United in the playoffs (which they won on aggregate before losing 1-0 to Blackburn Rovers in the final).
  • 1994: In the preliminary round of the 1994 Caribbean Cup, Barbados deliberately scored an own goal in a successful attempt to advance to the final stage by forcing golden goal extra time against Grenada, as an unusual tournament rule awarded a two-goal victory to a team that won in extra time. Needing a two-goal victory to advance, Barbados found themselves up 2–1 with three minutes left in regulation time. After Grenada realised what had happened, they in turn tried to score against their own net while Barbados defended both goals for the final three minutes of the match.[10] Barbados won the game in extra time and advanced to the next round.
  • 1994: Andrés Escobar, a Colombian defender, scored an own goal that ultimately contributed to a 2–1 loss to the United States and his country's elimination from the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Escobar apparently became a scapegoat for Colombia's defeat, and his own goal is believed by many to be the motive for his murder just ten days later.[11]
  • 1995: Stan Van Den Buys scored three own goals in one match while playing for Germinal Ekeren; his team lost the match, 4–2, to Anderlecht.[12]
  • 1996: Nicola Caricola, whose own goal started the "Curse of Caricola" for the MetroStars of the MLS.[13]
  • 1998: Tom Boyd of Scotland scored an own goal which turned out to be the winner for Brazil in the opening game of the 1998 FIFA World Cup when the ball ricocheted off his goalkeeper Jim Leighton and hit Boyd as he was moving towards it.[14]
  • 1998: In the last group match of the 1998 Tiger Cup, Thailand and Indonesia were assured of qualifying for the semi-finals, but both teams knew that the winner would face hosts Vietnam, while the loser would face Singapore, who were perceived to be easier opposition. After the first half saw barely any attempt to score, the score was 2–2 after 90 minutes, but during injury time, and despite two Thai defenders attempting to stop him, Indonesian defender Mursyid Effendi 'deliberately' scored an own goal, thus handing Thailand a 3–2 victory. FIFA fined both teams $40,000 for "violating the spirit of the game", while Effendi was banned from domestic football for one year and banned from international football for life. Both teams would end up losing their semi-finals, rendering the own goal meaningless.
  • 1998: Andoni Zubizarreta, Spain's goalkeeper, scored an own goal during Spain's 1998 FIFA World Cup defeat to Nigeria by deflecting a cross into his own net. Although the goal was officially credited by FIFA to Nigerian player Garba Lawal who crossed the ball, it is still considered to be an own goal. Spain exited the Cup in the first round and Zubizarreta retired shortly afterward.[7]
  • 1998: Jamie Pollock, defender for Manchester City, flicked the ball over an opposing player before heading in a bizarre own goal which saw Manchester City draw 2–2 with Queens Park Rangers in the penultimate match of the season, causing Manchester City to be relegated into Division 2 and keeping Queens Park Rangers in Division 1, just above the relegation zone.[15]
  • 1999: Frank Sinclair scored two own goals in three games in 1999 whilst playing for Leicester City and later scored an infamous own goal in a game against Middlesbrough.[7]
  • 1999: Jamie Carragher scored two own goals in a game against Manchester United.[16]
  • 2001: In the 2001 UEFA Cup Final, with the score tied at 4–4 in the 27th minute of extra time, Deportivo Alavés defender Delfí Geli scored an own golden goal to give Liverpool immediate victory.[17]
  • 2002: Graham Alexander, a Preston North End defender, scored an own goal when goalkeeper Teuvo Moilanen allowed his pass to slip under his foot in a crucial league game against Norwich City.[7] (Moilanen had also previously scored a 91st minute own goal himself while playing for Finland in a final 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Hungary after a Finnish defender hit a goal line clearance against him, giving the playoff spot to Hungary instead of Finland.[18])
  • 2002: In [19]
  • 2002: Peter Enckelman, then goalkeeper for Aston Villa, scored an own goal during a Birmingham derby in 2002 after miskicking a throw-in from Olof Mellberg.[20]
  • 2002: In rare cases more than one own goal can occur in a match. Such a case happened during the Sweeper Jeff Agoos returns the favor by scoring into his own net after a cross from Beto. This would have been Beto's second goal. The U.S. still won, 3–2, in a surprising result.
  • 2003: Sunderland scored three own goals in seven minutes of a Premier League match against Charlton Athletic. Stephen Wright scored the first before Michael Proctor put through his own net twice. Sunderland lost the game 3–1 and went bottom of the table, where they eventually finished the season, finishing with the lowest points scored in the Premier League with 19, the record would be broken by Sunderland again, the next time they played in the Premier League with 15, in the 2005-06 season.[21]
  • 2005: Jonathan Woodgate, in his first game for Real Madrid after his recovery from injury, scored an own goal in a game in which he later received a red card. He then went on to score another own goal two games later in a friendly against Real Zaragoza[22]
  • 2006: Chris Brass scored an own goal whilst attempting an overhead clearance for Bury against Darlington where he accidentally kicked the ball into his face, nearly breaking his nose in the process, deflecting into his own net.[23]
  • 2006: Gary Neville scored a bizarre own goal in a match between Croatia and England in a qualifier for Euro 2008. He passed the ball back to goalkeeper Paul Robinson who then miskicked the ball thanks to a bobble on the pitch causing it to bounce over his foot and roll into the back of the net.[24]
  • 2006: on November 1, in a match of 4th matchday of Group E of 2006–07 UEFA Champions League between Real Madrid and Steaua București, in the 70th minute of game,[25] Romanian player Bănel Nicoliță scored an own goal from almost 20 yards out,[26] with goalkeeper Cornel Cernea being out of position.[27][28] This was the only goal of the match and Real won 1–0. The own goal proved decisive both for Steaua and for Real, because it meant that Real Madrid qualified for the next round while Steaua lost every chance.[29][30][31][32] After the match, press from Romania and around Europe described the own goal as "farcical", "absurd" and "stupid".[26][29][33]
  • 2008: John Arne Riise scored an own goal in the Champions League semi-final first-leg. It was scored with effectively the last touch of the game and gave Chelsea a vital away goal and 1–1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield. Chelsea later went on to win the second leg, 3–2, after extra time and progressed through to the Champions League final, along with Liverpool's bitter rivals Manchester United.[34]
  • 2009: Damien Duff's own goal against Aston Villa caused Newcastle United to be relegated to the Football League Championship on the final day of the 2008–09 Premier League season.
  • 2009: In a 5–3 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hannover 96 scored six goals including an own-goal treble (two from Karim Haggui and one from Constant Djakpa).[35]
  • 2011: Festus Baise scored what has been called "the best own goal ever"[36] while playing for Citizen against Sun Hei in the Hong Kong First Division League. Television footage of the goal, described as a "reverse scorpion kick", gives the illusion that the accidental goal is a deliberate and skilful manoeuvre.[37]
  • 2011: Bari player Andrea Masiello scored an own goal in a derby with Lecce, which resulted in the latter team remaining in Serie A. He later admitted that he did that deliberately in a match fixing, and was banned 26 months.[38][39]
  • 2012: During what would become Bayern Munich's most successful season in their history, defender Jérôme Boateng scored an own goal in a Bundesliga match against Bayer Leverkusen. This was the winning goal, and had it not occurred Bayern Munich would have ended the season undefeated in the Bundesliga.
  • 2012: Brighton & Hove Albion lost an FA Cup Fifth Round match against Liverpool at Anfield, despite the fact they scored four goals. The end result was 6–1 to Liverpool as three of Brighton's goals were scored in their own net, two of them by Liam Bridcutt.[40]
  • 2014: The first goal confirmed using goal line technology at a FIFA World Cup match was an own goal. A kick by French forward Karim Benzema hit the right post and ricocheted off the hands of Honduras goalie Noel Valladares .The French team beat Honduras 3-0.
  • 2015: Laura Bassett of England attempted a sliding clearance of a drive by Nahomi Kawasumi of Japan in the final seconds of 90'+2 injury time during a 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup semi-final that resulted in an own goal that bounced in off the crossbar to give Japan the 2-1 lead to advance to the final. [41]

Ice hockey

  • In his rookie season, Steve Smith, an NHL defenceman, accidentally scored on his own net against the defending Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers in the 1986 NHL Divisional Finals. In the third period of the seventh and deciding game against the arch-rival Calgary Flames, with the score tied, 2–2, he attempted a pass from behind his own net that hit goaltender Grant Fuhr and deflected into the net. The goal, credited to Calgary forward Lanny McDonald, stood up as the game winner and eliminated the Oilers from the possibility of a three-peat. Edmonton went on to win the Stanley Cup again in 1987 and 1988.
  • The Detroit Red Wings' Paul Coffey accidentally swiped the puck into the Wings' own net during Game 1 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals against the Colorado Avalanche. The goal proved costly as it forced the Wings to tie the game late to force overtime, where they would eventually lose. Colorado won the series 4–2 and later went onto win the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals.
  • Defenceman Marc Bergevin of the St. Louis Blues grabbed the puck and accidentally threw it into his own net during the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This act tied Game 2 at 1–1 and the Blues went on to lose the game, 4–2, to the San Jose Sharks. Ultimately, the Sharks upset the Presidents Trophy-winning Blues by taking the series, 4–3.[42]
  • On April 27, 2004, during 2004 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships, Danish forward Morten Green scored when his pass was intercepted by Japanese player Nobuhiro Sugawara, who deflected the puck into his own goal. The result of this game determined their final standing in Group C of the Championships.
  • Sergei Gonchar, another NHL defenceman, not only deflected his own un-pressured outlet pass off the back of Olaf Kölzig's skate on November 14, 2003 while a member of the Washington Capitals, but redirected an opposition player's cross-ice pass five-hole on Marc-André Fleury on November 13, 2006 as a Pittsburgh Penguin.
  • On June 6, 2007, during Game 5 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final against the Anaheim Ducks, Chris Phillips, defenceman for the Ottawa Senators, tossed the puck into the skates of Senator goaltender Ray Emery and the puck was deflected into the net in the second period. The goal made it a 3–1 lead for the Ducks and would stand up as the Stanley Cup championship clinching goal for the Ducks. Travis Moen was credited as the goal scorer, despite having left the ice shortly before the goal was scored.
  • Goaltender Marc-André Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins had a shot from Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings go between his legs and stop short of the goal in the third period of Game 6 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals. Believing the puck was loose behind him (which it was), he fell backward to cover the puck, and accidentally pushed it into the goal, giving the Red Wings what turned out to be the game- and Stanley Cup-winning goal. This was the second year in a row that the cup winning goal was an own goal scored by a goaltender.[43]
  • On 24 November 2008, Ryan O'Byrne of the Montreal Canadiens shot the puck into an empty net as Montreal's goaltender Carey Price had left the ice for an extra attacker on a delayed penalty to the New York Islanders. This goal tied the game, 3–3, and the Islanders ultimately won the game in a shootout.
  • On 18 April 2010, in game 3 of the conference quarterfinals between the San Jose Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche, Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly scored when San Jose defenceman Dan Boyle attempted a pass from an improbable angle to goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, which was intended for Joe Thornton. Nabokov, who was totally unprepared for a shot on goal, froze as the puck slid between his legs. This gave Colorado a 2–1 series lead. San Jose ultimately won the series, 4–2.
  • On 18 March 2010, Greg Westlake of the Canada men's national ice sledge hockey team missed his defenceman on a pass in the offensive end while trying to tie the game in the last minute of the 2010 Paralympics semi-final, and sent the puck into the empty Canadian net.[44]
  • On December 26, 2011, during a game between the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes, Ilya Kovalchuk of the Devils attempted to pass the puck backwards to teammate Adam Henrique. However, the puck went past Henrique into an empty net, giving the Hurricanes a 4-2 win. The goal was credited to Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward, who became the 10th goalie to score a goal in NHL history.
  • 1:31 into Game Two of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals, Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks put what would be the game-winning goal into his own net against the St. Louis Blues. The goal was credited to Vladimir Sobotka. Sobotka had shot the puck from the blue line. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made the save, but Vlasic put it into the net when trying to clear the puck from the front of the net. The Blues would win the game, 3–0.
  • During the December 23, 2013 contest between the Buffalo Sabres and Phoenix Coyotes, Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith backed into his own goal, not realizing that the puck was lodged in his waistband. The incident, which happened during overtime, handed the Sabres a 3–2 win.[45]


It is not unheard of in the NBA for a basketball to ricochet off the body of a defender and be angled into the basket. In this case, the closest offensive player will be awarded the basket, as mentioned above.

College basketball

  • The Kentucky Wildcats' James Young scored an own goal basket behind the three-point line after saving a loose ball in an exhibition game against the Montevallo Falcons on November 4, 2013. The basket actually counted for two points to Montevallo.
  • In a game between the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles on December 30, 2014, Florida's Jacob Kurtz accidentally tipped in a missed shot by Florida State's Devon Bookert with 0.4 seconds left, giving the Seminoles a 65-63 victory.[46]

American football

  • Roy Riegels became infamous for his "own touchdown" in the 1929 Rose Bowl.
  • On October 25, 1964, in a game against the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Viking Jim Marshall recovered a fumble and ran 66 yards with it the wrong way into his own end zone. Thinking that he had scored a touchdown for the Vikings, Marshall then threw the ball away in celebration. The ball landed out of bounds, resulting in a safety for the 49ers. Despite this gaffe the Vikings won the game 27–22, with Marshall forcing the fumble that the Viking defense returned for the winning touchdown.[47]



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  38. ^ Andrea Masiello confesses over match-fixing in Serie A - The Guardian, 2 April 2012
  39. ^ Masiello handed 26-month ban for match-fixing - FourFourTwo, 3 August 2012
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  45. ^ Carson, Dan (December 24, 2013). NHL Approves Miraculous 'Butt Goal' Scored by Buffalo Sabres. Bleacher Report. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
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