Seven-goal thrillerOn today’s football language listening post we look at the phrase ‘Seven-goal thriller‘ and explain how it can be used in football. For this audio report there is a transcript which is great for learners and teachers of English. If you have questions or comments about this, or any other football phrase, you can email us at:

Football Language: Seven-goal thriller


DF: Hello everyone, this is Damian from the Learning English Through Football team – we hope you are all well and in this football language podcast, I am going to explain the phrase ‘seven-goal thriller‘. We will look at some of the different ways that the phrase can – and can’t – be used in football and of course we’ll also offer some examples. You can access the transcript to this listening practice by coming along to our site here at – it’s a great way to help learners improve their listening and reading skills and of course to improve their football vocabulary.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Dutch)

Seven-goal thriller

If we say a game is a thriller we mean that it is an exciting match – maybe it is an end-to-end game with lots of chances and incidents such as goals, chances and controversies. Both sides may hold the lead at different times during the game so that fans (and even players) may not know which team will win at the end. Now, if we add a number before the noun ‘thriller’ we can have some more information about what kind of thriller the game has been, so for example a five-goal thriller or a seven-goal thriller.

What kind of numbers can be used with the word ‘thriller’ to describe a match? Well, a one-goal thriller sounds a little strange – even if the game was very exciting and we don’t know which team will win until the very end. So usually we don’t say a one- or two-goal thriller but instead we tend to use the phrase with more goals so you will see and hear, for example, a four-goal thriller; a five-goal thriller and so on.

Now, just because a game has seven goals it does not always mean it’s a thriller. For example, if a team wins 7-0 or 6-1 we don’t usually call it a seven-goal thriller – it would be better to use a thrashing or a trouncing to describe the heavy defeat – although as we will see later this does sometimes occur. A seven-goal thriller could probably be a 5-2 win or more commonly a 4-3 victory. But we have to be careful because not all 4-3 or 5-2 games can be described as thrillers either because sometimes one team races to a four or five goal lead and the opposition score late consolation goals meaning the result has not really been in doubt despite the fact that there have been seven goals in the game.

Let’s take a look at some of the games from the second set of fixtures from the current Premier League season (2020-21) which had four matches that could be described as thrillers. First of all, Leeds United defeated Fulham 4-3. The the home side went 4-1 up at one stage and were dominating the match but then Fulham scored twice towards the end which made Leeds, and their fans, a little nervous before they finally held on for the win. So, I think we can call this one a ‘seven-goal thriller‘.

There were also two 5-2 victories over the weekend: Everton beat West Brom and Tottenham defeated Southampton and both could be described as seven-goal thrillers as the winning teams had to come from behind to win and there were lots of incidents in both matches (red cards, disallowed goals and controversial penalties). There was also a six-goal thriller on Sunday when Leicester defeated Burnley 4-2 – and we can also use the term ‘thriller’ here as Burnley not only took the lead but also put Leicester under a lot of pressure at the end as they tried to equalise.

One other language aspect to think about with this phrase is the type of verb used. In the examples below the verb clearly demonstrates the differences in the types of games despite both using the word ‘thriller’. In the first one, Leeds edge Fulham in seven-goal thriller‘, taken from Sky Sports website (September 20, 2020) earlier in the week, the verb used is ‘to edge‘ which suggests that Leeds just about defeated Fulham – to edge or edge out another team (or player) means that one side has only just won the game. In the second example, from the English FA website, ‘Bulgaria 0-6 England | Three Lions Dominate in Six-Goal Thriller!’ the verb is ‘dominate’ which means that the game was very one-sided as one team was much, much better than the other one and easily won which of course England did: 6-0.

So, for a game to be described as a four-, five-, six- or seven-goal thriller there are a few things to consider. We would, of course, expect the match to be exciting with lots of goals though it is not always necessary for both sides to have had a chance to win or draw (there may be a thrashing, for example). The use of the verb is also important as this gives us a clue about the final result.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Italian)


DF: Thanks everyone for listening. Let us know if you have any questions or comments about this phrase – have you seen any five or seven-goal thrillers recently? If you hear any interesting football language during the week – simply come along to our site here at and let us know. Enjoy all the football this week and we’ll see you soon. Bye bye.

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here. If you have any suggestions, contact us at

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Football GlossaryEpisode 940