What Are The Actual Chances Of Scoring A First, Last, Anytime Goal?

football tacticsOne of the bets that most punters love to place is on the player that will score the first goal, the last goal or a goal at any time. Most football supporters have been there, heading to watching a match and having the ‘feeling’ that a certain player is going to score. It’s often not based on anything other than a person’s intuition, but they might want to follow that up.

Bookmakers know this and so they offer odds on players scoring goals with various different markets: first, last, anytime, each half, within a ten minute period, 2 or more goals, etc. Looking at the stats behind players scoring is complex and working out the true odds for a specific game is virtually impossible, given the number of variables in place. Instead, we’ll have a look here at the stats on various players scoring such a goal to give you an idea of whether odds offered by bookmakers are fair.

It is difficult to easily calculate margins on goalscorer markets as complex markets are more prone to error, there are also factors such as players not starting and substitutions / sendings-off / injuries to think about.  Bookies, of course, err on the side of caution because of this and goalscorer markets are renowned for being poor value.  This is reflected by the fact there are a lot of offers for goalscorer bets and, like accumulator promotions, when there are a lot of deals you have to ask why and the biggest reason is because companies make a lot of money out of it.

The Odds

betting oddsBefore looking at how often given players score and in what way, it’s worth thinking about the odds. A player has an increased chance of scoring an Anytime Goal because it doesn’t matter if someone else scores before then or after them. As a result, the odds are much lower on an Anytime Goal being scored.

The odds of a First or Last Goal being scored are usually pretty much the same and always longer than Anytime Goalscorer odds. This is because you’re being more specific in your bet, which always encourages the bookmaker to be more generous in how they price it up. If your player scores you’re not paid out until the end of the match, so things can change.

The more often a player scores in general, the lower the odds will be for them to score any of these options. That is to say, a striker will always have lower odds than a defender of scoring any type of goal because it is their job to do so. A defender who scores quite a lot from set pieces will have lower odds than one that doesn’t and so on.

This is all very logical but odds traders still often struggle to price this market effectively.  This means the favourites, players more likely to score, tend to have poor odds compared to their actual chances of scoring, however, value can still be found at the lower end of the market.  Betting companies aim is to balance a book, therefore they are likely to take a lot more bets on the favourites, which often means the prices for other players less likely to score can often be good value, especially for defenders.

Top players can also attract good odds if they are less likely to start a match.  If you believe a good player usually on the bench may start (before the line up is announced) you may end up getting much better odds by backing them earlier.  The goalscorer market is also popular and competitive between bookies so you will often find enhanced odd specials for certain players in certain matches, searching around for these feature promotions can be a good way of getting better odds than normal.  Of course, you can also use one of the numerous goalscorer offers too, these either give insurance (e.g. back a first goalscorer and if they score anytime instead get your money back) or incentives (e.g. back a first goalscorer, if they score first and score again get double odds on your bet).

Goalscorer bets can also be combined with other markets, such as the correct score (scorecast) or result (wincast) as well as with many other markets using bet builders or request a bet features.  These are a good way to increase the odds if backing a top goalscorer, although its worth being aware these bets are known as related contingencies and are known for having high margins and poor customer value.

Premier League Top Goalscorers

premier league footballerNow that we’ve explained why the odds are the way they are, let’s have a look at the stats behind some of the Premier League’s most common goalscorers. Whilst we’ll do our best to keep this section as up to date as possible, it’s worth remembering that players move clubs all the time. We’re not looking at the specific players here so much as why their odds would differ.

The one thing to bear in mind as you look through the stats of players here is that if a player scores the only goal in a 1-0 win then it will count as both the First and the last goal, as well as being a goal scored at any time during a match. That obviously makes it tricky to nail down the stats absolutely, but it will give you a good idea of how often they’ve scored crucial goals.

Mohamed Salah

The Liverpool striker was deemed something of a one-hit wonder when he netted 32 goals in 36 appearances during the 2017-2018 season. That he followed it up with 22 goals in 38 appearances didn’t stop people being snooty about him, in spite of the fact that he won his second consecutive Golden Boot award from England’s top-flight competition.

Even 19 goals in 34 appearances in the 2019-2020 season couldn’t convince some people, but it’s fair to say that Mohamed Salah knows where the goal is. It’s for that reason that his odds will always be quite low in the Goalscorer markets, but we can have a look at the stats of how often he found himself on the receiving end of bettors’ thanks and praise.

Here’s a look at Salah’s goal scoring exploits for three seasons: 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. With the last one we’re only looking at the goals scored up until football was suspended, so for Salah that’s 26 appearances.

SeasonFirst Goal (%)Last Goal (%)Total Goals
2017-2018 9 (28%) 8 (25%) 32 (top scorer)
2018-2019 9 (41%) 8 (36%) 22 (joint top scorer)
2019-2020 5 (26%) 6 (32%) 19

Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy scored 24 goals on his way to helping Leicester City win the Premier League title in the 2015-2016 season. It’s difficult to talk about the Sheffield-born striker without referring to the fact that he moved from Fleetwood Town to the Foxes, climbing up through the leagues before eventually winning the ultimate prize. It’s a ‘Boy’s Own’ style story.

He’s always been a goalscorer, though. 26 goals in 37 league appearances for FC Halifax Town is what earned him his move to Fleetwood, where he netted 31 times in 36 league games. Knowing how to find the back of the net is, obviously, something of a key attribute in a striker, so it’s little wonder that he was eventually snapped up by Leicester City.

Now we’ll look at Vardy’s last three season’s worth of goals and see how many of them were scored first and last. Again, remember that if it was in 1-0 win then it would fit into both of those brackets.

SeasonFirst Goal (%)Last Goal (%)Total Goals
2017-2018 7 (35%) 7 (35%) 20
2018-2019 4 (22%) 9 (50%) 18
2019-2020 7 (30%) 7 (30%) 23 (top scorer)

Sergio Agüero

There are many clichés that commentators and writers use about strikers in order to mean that they don’t keep using the same word all the time. Ace; sharp-shooter; assassin; all of them are fitting when it comes to talking about Sergio Agüero. The Manchester City front man might not have won the silverware he deserves with Argentina, but he certainly has domestically.

4 Premier Leagues, 5 League Cups and an FA Cup are not trophies to be sniffed at, with Agüero being partly responsible for many of them. He has struggled with injuries over the years, which is why he’s not scored as many as he may have, but he’s still found the net often enough to mean that he’s always in the conversation for the Golden Boot, having won it once.

So how do his stats compare to the real of the players on this list? Here’s a look at how he’s done over the past three season, which should give us an indication of how often he’s able to not only get on the scoresheet but also score an important goal:

SeasonFirst Goal (%)Last Goal (%)Total Goals
2017-2018 7 (33%) 5 (24%) 21
2018-2019 9 (43%) 7 (33%) 21
2019-2020 3 (19%) 3 (19% 16

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is how few clubs lined up to sign him when it became clear that he was going to leave Borussia Dortmund. Though he was far from prolific during the early part of his career, netting just 8 times in 34 games when on loan at Dijon, for example, there’s no question that he became phenomenal.

During a two year spell at Saint-Étienne he bagged 35 league goals in 73 games, which is what caught the eye of Jürgen Klopp at the Westfalonstadion. During his time in the Bundesliga he scored 98 goals in 144 league appearances, so it’s easy to see why Arsenal wanted him and difficult to understand why no one else seemed to.

Here’s a look at his last three seasons, but bear in mind that he was playing for Borussia Dortmund in the 2017-2018 campaign. How much easier the Bundesliga is compared to the Premier League is a matter for debate, but it’s important to think about.

SeasonFirst Goal (%)Last Goal (%)Total Goals
2017-2018 3 (23%) 2 (15%) 13
2018-2019 7 (32%) 8 (36%) 22
2019-2020 10 (45%) 10 (45%) 22

Harry Kane

Harry Kane is seen by many as the best English striker since Alan Shearer. His story is comparable to Jamie Vardy’s in the sense that he was on loan at lower league clubs before being given a chance with a top side and grasped it with both hands. There are also comparisons to be made with Sergio Agüero in the sense that injuries have marred his career.

The interesting thing about the break in the season in 2019-2020 was whether Kane would be just as good on his return, considering he’d been far from full fitness for so long. Regardless of his fitness levels, though, he’s a ruthless goalscorer who will find the back of the net more often than not. That has led to two Golden Boots in the Premier League at the time of writing.

His stats compare favourably to the other players on this list, too. When you consider he’s missed large chunks of seasons thanks to injuries, he’s still in the conversation when the Golden Boot comes around virtually every year.

SeasonFirst Goal (%)Last Goal (%)Total Goals
2017-2018 11 (37%) 13 (43%) 30
2018-2019 7 (41%) 4 (24%) 17
2019-2020 4 (22%) 7 (39%) 18

What About The Champions League?

champions league on a footballThe Premier League is an obviously good league to look at because of the very nature of English clubs going up against each other, but the Champions League is a competition in which the best sides from across the continent go head-to-head. Does a player’s scoring exploits differ if the opposition that they’re up against is stronger?

Here’s a look at the top five goalscorers from the last five full seasons. For the purposes of comparison we’ll also add their First and Last Goalscorer exploits from their domestic league that season. There are some seasons in which more than one player has scored the same number of goals, so we’ll have a look at all of them.

2014-2015

Three players shared the honour of scoring 10 goals during the 2014-2015 Champions League season and it will be of little surprise to anyone to see the names on the list. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar all found the back of the net an equal number of times during the course of the competition.

Here’s how they compare:

 Lionel MessiCristiano RonaldoNeymar
Domestic First Goals 11 13 8
Domestic Last Goals 16 13 2
Domestic Total Goals 43 48 22
Champions League First Goals 2 5 3
Champions League Last Goals 2 1 4

2015-2016 - Cristiano Ronaldo

Would you be surprised to learn that one of the names from 2014-2015 was also the top scorer in the Champions League the following season? Cristiano Ronaldo is considered by many to be one of the best players that ever played the game, with only Lionel Messi pipping him to the post. Here’s the Portuguese star’s stats from that season:

Domestic First GoalsDomestic Last GoalsDomestic Total GoalsChampions League First GoalsChampions League Last GoalsChampions League Total Goals
8 6 35 5 3 16

2016-2017 - Cristiano Ronaldo

In the 2016-2017 campaign it was that man Ronaldo again topping the goal scoring charts, which isn’t that surprising considering his Real Madrid team went on to win the Champions League for the second season running. He was run close by Lionel Messi, but Barcelona’s exit from the competition at an earlier round stopped him for achieving it.

Domestic First GoalsDomestic Last GoalsDomestic Total GoalsChampions League First GoalsChampions League Last GoalsChampions League Total Goals
9 5 25 3 2 12

2017-2018 - Cristiano Ronaldo

Despite Liverpool having three of the top four spaces in the top goalscorer list, with Sadio Mané Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah each scoring 10 goals as the Reds raced to the final in impressive fashion, none of them could get closed to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 15 goals. He didn’t score against Liverpool in the final, but Real still won the competition for the third successive time.

Domestic First GoalsDomestic Last GoalsDomestic Total GoalsChampions League First GoalsChampions League Last GoalsChampions League Total Goals
5 6 26 4 5 15

2018-2019 - Lionel Messi

It’s not a guarantee that the winning team will also have the top scorer, as evidenced by the fact that Lionel Messi takes the crown for the 2018-2019 season. Barcelona looked like they would be in the final when they beat Liverpool 3-0 in the first-leg of the semi-final, but the Reds managed to make their second successive final when they beat them 4-0 in the return leg at Anfield.

Domestic First GoalsDomestic Last GoalsDomestic Total GoalsChampions League First GoalsChampions League Last GoalsChampions League Total Goals
8 13 36 4 3 12