Open goal

In this football language post we explain the phrase ‘open goal‘ which is used to describe a really bad miss by a player in front of the goal. Don’t forget we have hundreds more explanations of football language in our football glossary and we also have a page full of football cliches. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at:

Football Language: Open Goal

If the goal is open in football it means there is no one guarding or protecting it – maybe the goalkeeper is out of position for example. When the goal is open like this, it should mean that it is easier for an attacker to score as there is no one to stop the shot or the header. However, somtimes a player can miss an open goal which can leave team mates, managers and fans with their head in their hands as they try to understand how the player has missed. How can a player miss an open goal? Maybe they mishit or scuffed the shot. Maybe the player hit the ball too hard and it sailed or went over the bar – we can also say that the player has blazed the shot over the bar or skied their shot over Or maybe the ball bobbled, which means that the ball moved slightly, just before the player could hit it which affected their aim. Whatever the reason, missing an open goal looks bad for the player and sometimes can also have a bad effect on the team. In the recent Champions League quarter-final game between Lyon and Manchester City, Raheem Sterling missed an open goal to equalise for his side but then 60 seconds later Lyon broke and scored the third goal – admittedly thanks to another Manchester City howler, this time from their keeper Ederson.

Example: ‘Sterling was guilty of an atrocious miss, somehow sending his finish over the top of an open goal from Gabriel Jesus’ pass.’ (BBC, August 16 2020).

Example: Roberto Gagliardini misses open goal for Inter Milan during six-goal thriller with Sassuolo as they lose ground on Juventus in Serie A title race (Talksport, June 20 2020)

Related Vocabulary

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Football GlossaryEpisode 935