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How does World Cup overtime work?

Here’s what happens when a must-win game remains tied after 90 minutes of regulation play.

Brazil v Chile: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ninety minutes is sometimes not enough to separate teams at the World Cup. The group stage can have its draws, but from the start of the knockout round through the final every match must have a winner and a loser — just one team moving on, and one team going home.

So how do things work when we get to the end of regulation play and the score is tied? That’s where extra time comes in. If that doesn’t settle things, then it’s time for penalties. That’s what might happen in the World Cup final between France and Croatia.

What is extra time?

After a brief break to give both teams a quick breather and a chance to plan their tactics, the match continues with two 15-minute periods of extra time to try and determine a winner. There is one extra substitution granted to each team during extra time, but there’s also only a few short minutes between the two 15-minute periods to rest and adjust.

Unlike some past competitions, the 2018 World Cup doesn’t use a so-called “golden goal” rule, where the first goal scored during extra time is automatically a winner. Instead, the victor is typically the team that’s better maintained its energy and composure late during regulation, as the fresher, more organized side carries a big advantage when you get deep into that extra half hour of play.

When do we get penalty kicks?

If that extra half hour passes and there’s still not a winner, the match goes to a penalty shootout. Both teams select five players to send to the penalty spot and take their shots in rotating order between them, with the team with the most penalties scored after the five winning. If after five penalties it’s still tied, penalties continue one round at a time — the first team to have an advantage after a round between both teams wins.

The higher the stakes, the more dramatic extra time and penalty shootouts tend to be — and there are no higher stakes in this sport than the World Cup.