Own goal

Own goal

An own net occurs in goal-scoring games when a player scores a goal that is registered against his or her own team. It is usually accidental, and may be a result of an attempt at defensive play that failed or was spoiled by opponents.

The term has become a metaphor for any action that backfires upon a person.[1]


Association football

In association football (soccer), 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 in the net 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. Then 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.

An own goal cannot be scored directly (i.e. without any other player touching the ball) from an attacking throw-in or a defending free kick (a corner kick will be awarded to the attacking team if so should happen), and under certain other circumstances, for example, directly from a corner kick.

The defending player who scored the own goal is personally "credited" with the goal as part of the statistical abstract of the game.

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, mainly due to the belief that the player credited with the goal had his/her shot deflected. 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 shot 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 as the first goalie receiving credit with a NHL goal scored.


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 NBA and NCAA rules, the goal is credited to the player on the scoring team who is closest to the rim. 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. In Canadian football, if this occurs as a result of a kick, the kicking team is awarded one point, scored as a single, or rouge. 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), 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.[1]

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 soccer. However, they are known to occur, such as one scored by Paddy Andrews in a 2009 O'Byrne Cup match.[2] 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 football defender may concede an "own score." Such a score, referred to as a rushed behind and statistically credited to no player (scoresheets will simply include the tally of rushed behinds), results in the opposition team earning one point.

A defending player will choose to concede a rushed behind when the risk of the opposition scoring a goal (worth six points) is high. The team which concedes the rushed behind then retains possession of the ball, kicking in as normal. It is impossible for a team to concede an "own goal" worth six points.

Many football observers[who?] dislike the practice of deliberate rushed behinds.[citation needed] The two main issues are that defenders are given too easy an option of alleviating pressure in defence, and the defending team is then given control of the ball via the kick-in. The idea of a rushed behind registering three points (awarded on the scoreboard as three behinds) instead of just one has been trialled in the NAB Cup, and the idea of awarding a free kick to the opposition was trialled in the 2009 NAB Cup. After the 2009 NAB Cup, the rule of awarding a free kick for a deliberate rushed behind, unless under pressure from the opposing team, was immediately implemented for regular season play. This came after Hawthorn rushed a record 11 rushed behinds against Geelong in the 2008 AFL Grand Final, and eventually won the premiership by 26 points.

Notable own goals

Many notable instances in sports where players scored on their own goal.

Association football

Ice hockey

  • On 18 April 2010, in game 3 of the conference quarterfinals between the San Jose Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche, San Jose defenceman Dan Boyle attempted a pass from an improbable angle to San Jose 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. Ryan O'Reilly was credited with the goal. 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.[22]
  • 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.
  • 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.[23]
  • 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.
  • On April 27, 2004, during 2004 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships, Japanese player Nobuhiro Sugawara scored own goal after getting pass from Danish forward Morten Green. 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.
  • 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.[24]
  • 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.
  • 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 Perry Berezan, stood up as the game winner and eliminated the Oilers from the possibility of a three-peat.


  • 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.
  • In a game between the Toronto Raptors and the Sacramento Kings on February 7, 2010, Chris Bosh was defending under the net and accidentally deflected a ball back into the basket.
  • In a game between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls on April 13, 2010, Rasheed Wallace mishandled a rebound of a Brad Miller shot and the ball went in the basket.
  • In the 2010 NBA Finals between the Celtics and the Lakers, Pau Gasol made an own goal during the 5th game at Boston.
  • Center Darko Milicic tipped the ball into his own basket on a jump ball in a game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Washington Wizards on January, 13.


  • During the 2007-08 Men's EuroFloorball Cup Finals, the 5th place match featured three own goals. Finnish team SSV Helsinki would score two own goals during regulation time, but would still go on to win the match as their opponents, Swiss team SV Wiler-Ersigen, would score an own goal 15 seconds into sudden victory overtime.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • own goal — own goals 1) N COUNT: usu sing In sport, if someone scores an own goal, they accidentally score a goal for the team they are playing against. [BRIT] Southampton took the lead through a Richard Shaw own goal after only 30 seconds. 2) N COUNT: usu… …   English dictionary

  • own goal — n BrE 1.) a ↑goal that you accidentally score against your own team without intending to in a game of football, ↑hockey etc 2.) informal an action or remark that has the opposite effect from what you intended ▪ The minister s admission turned out …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • own goal — ► NOUN ▪ (in soccer) a goal scored when a player accidentally strikes or deflects the ball into their own team s goal …   English terms dictionary

  • own goal — noun count usually singular BRITISH 1. ) a goal you accidentally score against your own team 2. ) something you do that accidentally harms you, often when you intended to harm someone else …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • own goal — UK / US noun [countable, usually singular] Word forms own goal : singular own goal plural own goals British 1) a goal that you accidentally score against your own team 2) something you do that accidentally harms you, often when you intended to… …   English dictionary

  • own goal — noun a) A goal that results from a player putting the ball into his own goal; the resulting goal being scored for the opposition. b) A blunder that damages ones own prospects …   Wiktionary

  • own goal — noun (C) BrE 1 a goal that you accidentally score 2 (1) against your own team without intending to in a game of football, hockey etc 2 informal an action or remark that has the opposite effect from what you intended: the minister s spectacular… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • own goal — noun (soccer) a goal that results when a player inadvertently knocks the ball into the goal he is defending the own goal cost them the game • Topics: ↑soccer, ↑association football • Hypernyms: ↑goal …   Useful english dictionary

  • own goal —    an accusation or campaign which damages the originator    The result for a soccer player of inadvertently scoring against his own side:     Occasionally there was an own goal . Usually there was a warning. (McCrum, 1991, describing terrorists… …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

  • own goal — noun (in soccer) a goal scored when a player inadvertently strikes or deflects the ball into their own team s goal. ↘Brit. informal an act that unintentionally harms one s own interests …   English new terms dictionary

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