Soccer Betting: How Important The First Goal?

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world in terms of betting action. It’s no surprise that the experts are so obsessed with the differences in win probabilities throughout the duration of a match. One important area of concern is the importance of the first goal. How often do teams that score the first goal go on to win? How much does the talent and ability of a team impact their chances of a comeback after falling behind on the opening goal? Here is a closer look at the importance of scoring the first goal in soccer.

The Numbers

A study conducted over seven full Premier League seasons from 2009-10 through 2015-16 revealed that the team that scored the first goal went on to win the match 69-percent of the time. That is an absolutely ridiculous number. Meanwhile, the team that scored first settled for a draw 19-percent of the team and actually lost the match only 12-percent of the time. The fact that the team that scored the first goal went on to win or draw a whopping 88-percent of the time is a testament to the importance of getting on the board first in soccer.

The Advanced Numbers

A closer look at those numbers revealed an even bigger disparity depending on where teams were in the standings. For example, the team that scored first in the Premier League games studied over that seven-year period went on to win 69-percent of the time. However, that number jumped to 80-percent when it came to the teams that finished the year in the top four in the table. There was also a large disparity with the clubs that finished in the bottom four. Those clubs only went on to win the games in which they scored first an average of 50-percent of the time. While the overall numbers are a testament to the importance of scoring first, the advanced numbers showed that it was the teams closer to the top of the table that really drove the win probabilities when scoring first so high.

The Comeback Statistics

One other area that was focused on in this study was the ability for teams to come back after they fell behind by a goal. As was the case with the win probabilities for the teams that scored first, the best teams drove the percentage of comebacks from down 1-0 while the worst teams struggled in that situation. Teams that placed 1-4 in the standings ended up coming back from a 1-0 deficit only 27-percent of the time. Meanwhile, teams that finished in the bottom four of the table went on to win their matches only 6.4-percent of the time. These numbers support the importance of factoring in team talent and ability when measuring win probability based on which team scores the first goal.


It’s important to understand how these numbers work and what they should mean to sports bettors. There is a good chance a top tier club that scores the first goal of the game will go on to win. At the very least, they might be worth betting on to win or draw since the probability of them losing after scoring first drops to just 12-percent. Meanwhile, the teams that are destined to finish near the bottom of the table could be counted on for the most part to struggle after conceding the first goal. Since teams in the bottom four went on to win games only 6.4-percent of the time after conceding the first goal, there is a good chance it will make sense to fade them in those games. The first goal in soccer should have a tremendous impact on the outcome of the games, but team talent should always be factored in to the equation as well.