Imagine a situation in which your favourite team is on the cusp of a shock win as they lead 2-1 with less than a minute of normal time left to play. You anxiously await to see the number that will appear on the fourth official’s electronic board, indicating the minimum amount of extra time that will be played. On a good day, your side might only need to hang on for a mere two minutes but a series of prior delays could perhaps result in five or six minutes of nail-biting.
For the vast majority of professional games played, you will not see added time (also known as injury time or stoppage time) go beyond this. There are regional variations but on average, a normal match would only see around four to six additional minutes across both halves, so usually the game is not extended by a great deal. There have been instances, however, in which a gigantic chunk of added time has been added and the biggest of them feature in our list below.
Note that injury time is not the same thing as extra time. Extra time is used in knockout tournaments to find a winner after sides are level after normal time; injury/stoppage/additional time, in contrast, is added onto each half of a game (including each half of extra time when applicable) to cover any stoppages in that half relating to injuries, time-wasting and one or two other specified occurrences as outlined by Law 7 of the laws of football.
Most Memorable Matches with Long Stoppage
So, Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable occasions on which stoppage time has gone on for a very long time.
Shabab Khanyounis vs Ittihad Khanyounis (2019) – 42 minutes
Full credit if you knew that these two rivals were facing each other in the Gaza Strip Premier League. It is certainly not the most high-profile match to feature on our list but with 42 minutes of injury time, it is a clear winner. The 2019 fixture saw such a huge amount of stoppage time because the floodlights were not activated and they could not find the technician in charge of them. It took nearly the full half for them to figure out a solution, meaning the players played three minutes of normal time before 42 additional minutes were added.
All the drama was solely off the pitch for this contest though as the match, despite getting its full allocation of time, finished 0-0. Maybe it would have been better had they simply played with the lights off.
Burton vs Bournemouth (2019) – 28 minutes
A League One side knocking out a Premier League club was in itself quite noteworthy, even if it was just in the third round of the League Cup. This is not why this game will be long-remembered however, instead it will be remembered for the 28 minutes stoppage time added to the end of the second half. The reason for this outrageous addition was because of not one, not two, but three separate incidents of the floodlights turning off. After the third delay, 76 minutes into the match, the referee actually signalled to abandon the game but he changed his decision in line with Football League guidance.
The Football League rules stated that a match should only be abandoned if stoppages total more than 30 minutes. The actual number of stoppages was irrelevant so long as they had not crossed the threshold of 30 minutes of non-playing time, which they had not quite. The players subsequently returned to the pitch, again, with Burton 2-0 up at the time. The Brewers managed to hold onto their lead although they were given a small scare when Chris Mepham struck the post with just one minute left to play. It was quite the experience for all the fans present at the Pirelli Stadium and no doubt for the players too.
Bristol City vs Brentford (2000) – 23 minutes
An eventful first-half at the Ashton Gate saw a broken leg, a dislocated shoulder and a serious concussion. In the case of the dislocated shoulder, while this would not normally cause such a lengthy stoppage, Brentford striker Lloyd Owusu fainted due to the pain, requiring the stand-by ambulance to drive onto the pitch. As only two of the three incidents happened during regular time, the referee originally signalled for 13 minutes added time to be played. Due to there being another lengthy stoppage during injury time though, the half-went on for an extra 23 minutes.
Two goals were scored during first-half injury time, a penalty from City’s Lee Peacock and a strike from Brentford’s Martin Rowlands. One of these, although it is not entirely clear which, came deep into extra time, after more than 20 minutes had been played. For the 3,471 fans inside Ashton Gate, they did not end up leaving this League Cup tie until much later than they would have initially expected. The game finished 2-2 but it was the Bees who prevailed by winning the second leg of the first round League Cup tie 2-1.
Shimizu S-Pulse vs Vissel Kobe (2018) – 18 minutes
Incredible scenes inside the IAI Stadium Nihondaira were only made possible due to a late injury which saw 18 minutes of stoppage time played. Many were expecting Dyanfres Douglas’ 87th-minute strike, which reduced the hosts’ deficit to one goal, to be the last main action of the match but how wrong they were. Deep into added time, 14 minutes to be precise, goalkeeper Yuji Rokutan came up for a corner and headed home to level the scores. Second-half injury time is typically when goalkeepers score, as only then do they have permission to venture forward, but you will not find one scoring any later than this in a top-flight match.
Rokutan’s headed equaliser earned a point for Shimizu, leaving the likes of Vissel Kobe’s Andres Iniesta and Lukas Podolski to look on in disbelief. As if that was not enough, the visitors were reduced to nine men in the dying seconds of the game as substitute Wellington managed to collect a second yellow card in the space of three minutes.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Guangzhou Evergrande (2015) – 17 minutes
We’ve travelled even further away from home to bring you this next example, all the way to Australia. The Asian Champions League tie, hosted in New South Wales, ran on for much longer than planned due to an awful incident between Guangzhou keeper Zeng Cheng and one of his own defenders. The pair collided, leaving the shot-stopper with a suspected fractured cheekbone and a serious concussion to boot.
His replacement, who came on in the 82nd minute, ended up with a fairly busy cameo as the Wanderers looked to find a route back into the game. In the 95th minute, Romeo Castelan pulled one back, making the scoreline 3-2 in favour of the visitors. Their three goals, which all came courtesy of Ricardo Goulart, proved to be enough though, in what ended up being a winning AFC Champions League campaign for the Chinese outfit.
PAOK vs Olympiakos (2014) – 15 minutes
Not only was this Greek Cup semi-final second leg delayed by over an hour, but the game itself saw 15 minutes tagged onto the end. At times the stadium looked like a bonfire with thousands of touches and smoke bombs set off to create an intimidating ‘welcome to hell’ atmosphere. The match was so fiery in fact that, during the contest, the Olympiakos bench was set ablaze. Not all problems were fire-related though, several Olympiakos players and staff had fish thrown at them because their nickname is ‘gravos’ which means anchovy.
Due to safety concerns, the referee was forced to call a halt to proceedings and return to the dressing room until safety could be assured. This was not the reason for the 15 minutes injury time however, for this the players were to blame. Constant fighting between players in this high-pressure game led to a series of significant stoppages and two red cards.
Arsenal vs West Ham (2013) – 13 minutes
What should have been a game that resulted in abundant praise for Arsenal’s attacking forces ended up rather marred by an awful clash of heads in the second half. Substitute Dan Potts ended up seriously concussed after colliding with Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna, leaving the West Ham youngster in a heap on the floor. Before medics could ship him off to a nearby hospital, a head and neck brace had to be carefully fitted. Fortunately, the 18 year old was in good enough shape to be released from the hospital the following day although he did not appear again for the rest of the season.
The extensive added-on time, while made necessary due to the head injury, was not in the slight bit wanted by any of the away supporters. The Hammers were already 5-1 down at the time and they were down to 10 men having made all their substitutions before the injury. To their credit though, they did not concede another, meaning their 6-1 defeat to Arsenal in 1976 remained their outright worst loss against the north Londoners.
Arsenal vs Liverpool (2011) – 12 minutes
Arsenal feature once again and this game was only a matter of seconds shorter than their comprehensive victory over West Ham (12:26 played added time rather than 12:58). While the above game failed to see much action during stoppage time, the same cannot be said for this one. A truly remarkable ending saw Arsenal take the lead in the 98th minute via a Robin van Persie penalty, only for Dirk Kuyt to equalise with another spot-kick four minutes later.
How many fans can claim to have celebrated an equaliser in the 102nd minute of a league game before? We would not be remotely surprised if Liverpool supporters were the only ones. The celebrations would have been somewhat curbed mind you due to the fact it served to extend Manchester United’s gap at the top of the table to six points.