Match Event Betting Market Explained – Strategy & Tips

Written By: Conor Rafter
Last Updated: September 21, 2022

Match Event Betting Explained

Quick Answer

“Match events” are offsides, bookings, shots, tackles, offsides, own goals, and anything else that can happen in a game of football. The events are carried out by either of the two teams – whether it’s a feisty affair or a neutral fixture. 

You can bet on match events at the UK’s best bookmakers by adding the number of shots/shots on target/penalties/etc to your betslip. If, for instance, you bet on 10+ shots on target in a single match and that threshold is reached (by either team), you’ll get paid out in real money.

The same applies to all other wagers based on football match events. Simply bet on occurrences you deem possible by entering a stake and confirming the punt, then wait for your winnings to roll in.

Betting Market Explanations For Match Events

There are a wide variety of betting markets centred around match events, such as:

  • Penalty/Penalty Miss
  • Cards
  • Own Goals
  • Shots on Target
  • Tackles
  • Offsides

Among others. Although each of these markets is similar as they’re all in-game possibilities, they differ in unique ways. This is because the requirements for each event are specific to the market (i.e. shots are not the same as shots on target).

Therefore, it’s important to know exactly what you’re betting on before throwing money at various match events. In this section, we break down all the most popular match event betting options.

Penalty/Penalty Miss

Penalties are awarded to a team deemed to have been fouled within the confines of the opposition penalty box. When this happens, the fouled team must attempt to score a goal via a free shot from 12-yards. 

With regard to the ‘Penalty’ market, you’re betting on whether there will be a spot-kick in the match. If you choose ‘Yes’, you’ll be paid out if the decision goes your way. Choose ‘No’ and you get paid if there is no penalty. 

Penalty Miss’ is an extension of this market. Here, you’re betting on there being a missed penalty (a penalty that is saved or goes wide) to try and make a profit. 

Check out our dedicated To Score/Miss A Penalty Betting Guide for an extensive look at all things penalties and how to best take advantage of the markets.


Cards – also known as bookings – are handed to individual players that repeatedly commit fouls or perform reckless challenges. When the referee decides enough is enough, they take a card from their pocket and hold it above their head to signal that a booking has been made.

Cards come in two colours; yellow and red. A yellow card is given to players that make unfair tackles by knocking the opposing player to the ground and to anyone that deserves more than just a standard verbal warning from the referee. When a yellow card is received, the player must tread carefully to avoid getting a second yellow.

Two yellow cards for the same player result in a red card. This type of booking will see the player exit the field of play permanently and without replacement. In addition, two yellow cards for one player in the same game will result in a one-match ban (Premier League rules). For dangerous play, players can receive a straight red card and a three-game ban.

Each sports betting site has its own take on how bettors can gamble on bookings. William Hill, for example, gives punters the opportunity to bet on ‘Total Match Cards’. Here are the options for this type of bet at the bookie:

  • Bet on Under 4 Cards
  • Bet on 4-6 Cards
  • Bet on Over 6 Cards 
Match Event Betting Market Explained - Total Match Cards

SkyBet, on the other hand, utilizes a system known as ‘Booking Points’. With this bet type, the type of card handed to players matters more than the exact number of cards. Here’s how it works:

  • Yellow Cards are worth 10 Booking Points
  • Red Cards are worth 25 Booking Points
  • Two Yellow Cards for the same player results in 35 Booking Points for that individual (yellow + yellow = red)

This means that if your bet was for 15+ Total Booking Points and there were 35 Booking Points in the game, your bet wins. It does not matter how many players receive the Booking Points.

Own Goal In Match

An own goal is a footballer’s worst nightmare. They work all week long to defeat the opposition, practising strategies to keep attackers at bay only to strike the ball into the wrong net. In front of thousands of fans, no less.

Some players are prone to scoring own goals. Jamie Carragher (7) was infamous for his ability to score for the opposing team, while former Ireland international Richard Dunne (10) holds the current Premier League record for own goals. 

As for recent team statistics, the 2021/22 own goal leaders were Everton (5), followed by Manchester United (3) and the now-relegated Watford (3). Despite these three clubs each having very different campaigns, they all had questionable defensive structures and a little bit of bad luck. It’s the latter that makes betting on this market incredibly difficult.

The following markets are particularly popular at bookmaker websites when it comes to own goal wagers:

  • Anytime Own Goal
  • Player To Score an Own Goal

Keep an eye out for games between sides at the top of the own goal charts – like Manchester United vs Everton – to have a better chance at winning this type of wager.

Match Shots On Target & Shots

A ‘Shot On Target’ is defined by OPTA (courtesy of Betfair) as any goal attempt that:

  • Goes into the net regardless of intent
  • Is a clear attempt to score that would have gone into the net but for being saved by the goalkeeper or is stopped by a player who is the last man with the goalkeeper having no chance of preventing the goal.

When betting on the number of shots on target in a single game, any of the above statements must be true for a shot to be added to the total. If the description does not fit either OPTA definition, the shot will be counted as any of the following:

  • Shot
  • Shot Off Target
  • Blocked Shot

You can bet on the number of shots on target in any eligible match at most sportsbooks. In addition, many bookies offer Price Boosts for multiple players to have a cumulative number of Shots on Target during the course of 90 minutes.

It’s also possible to bet on ‘Shots’. In this market, the direction of the shot is irrelevant in that the strike must simply be a clear attempt, but not necessarily an attempt that makes the goalkeeper work or forces a defender to jump in at the last moment to block the shot.

Due to the Shots market being significantly vaguer compared to Shots on Target, the odds for selections will be lower in value compared to the more specific ‘Shots on Target’ option. Nevertheless, it remains a solid choice for games involving teams with a history of end-to-end attacking action. 

SkyBet: a Shot on Target

At SkyBet, a shot on target is defined as a clear attempt to score that would have crossed the line if not for the goalkeeper or the last man blocking the ball. SkyBet shares its definition of shots on target with renowned football data and statistics collectors, Opta.

At SkyBet, a shot on target is defined as a clear attempt to score that would have crossed the line if not for the goalkeeper or the last man blocking the ball.

SkyBet shares its definition of shots on target with renowned football data and statistics collectors, Opta.

Opta’s official definition of a shot on target is as follows:

  • A shot that goes into the goal regardless of intent from the player.
  • A shot that would have gone into the net but for being stopped by the goalkeeper, or last-man-back in the event that the goalkeeper cannot block the ball.
Match Event Betting Market Explained - Strategy & Tips -

Moreover, SkyBet does not consider shots blocked by defenders as being on target unless they’re the last man back. Whether or not the shot would have been within the frame of the goal is irrelevant in this instance.

Match Event Betting Market Explained - Strategy & Tips -

Is A Header a Shot on Target?

So long as a headed shot would have ended up in the net barring prevention from a goalkeeper or the last man, it will count as a shot on target. At SkyBet, headed shots are defined in exactly the same way as shots struck with the foot.

If a headed shot strikes the crossbar or the post before going into the goal it counts as a shot on target. If the ball hits the woodwork but does not cross the goal-line, it is considered a shot off target. This law also applies to shots struck with any other part of a players’ body.

When Is A Shot Off Target?

Shots are off-target if the players’ intent was something other than a strike at goal. For example, crosses that must be saved by a goalkeeper or blocked by the last man are not considered shots on target.

This is because, at SkyBet, what is a shot on target when the ball does not go into the net is defined by the intention of the player hitting the ball.

Examples of a shot off-target are outlined here:

  • When the intent of the player is not to shoot.
  • When a shot lacks sufficient power to trouble the goalkeeper.
  • When a missed shot hits the crossbar and/or post.
  • Shots that are off-target yet collected by the goalkeeper.
  • Deflections off attacking players that must be blocked by the goalkeeper or the last man to prevent a goal.


There are few things better than seeing two teams go hell for leather, leaving everything they have on the pitch. Players go sliding into challenges, ruffing each other up to take the ball from the opponent. As long as the tackle is made safely and within reason, the referee will allow play to continue.

A ‘tackle’ in football is often the best way to gain possession. To carry out a tackle, players must be willing to put their bodies on the line and infiltrate others’ personal space. Tackles can be made from a standing position, on the ground via a sliding challenge, or with any other part of the body that is permitted to touch the ball. 

There is no one all-encompassing way to define a tackle as there are so many methods players can use. That said, most tackles are made by sticking your foot in a position that causes the opposing player to lose possession of the ball to you, the aggressor. 

William Hill offers betting markets for tackles:

  • Total Match Tackles 
  • Player Tackles
  • Team Tackles

For the Total Match Tackles market, you should look out for sides with a high-press. It’s also worth watching clubs that incorporate low-blocks, as this type of system encourages the opposition to try and break down the defending team’s back-line. This leads to defenders being pushed into making defensive actions, like tackles.

In the Premier League, the likes of Leicester City, Everton and Leeds United boasted the highest number of tackles during 2021/22. These are three solid teams to bet on for upcoming fixtures when you want to bet on tackles.


You can transform one of the most frustrating aspects of football into a rewarding, profit-ridden feature of the game by betting on the total number of offsides in a match.

The offside rule is necessary to prevent “goal-hanging” by attackers. It provides defenders with an improved chance to stop opposition forwards from creating scoring opportunities and encourages strikers to make clever runs. 

The way it works is actually quite simple:

  • The player receiving the ball must be in-line or in front of the last defender at the time the ball is kicked in their direction, otherwise, the individual is offside.
  • If in the above circumstance the player does not touch the ball but interferes with play, they are offside. 

You can find a detailed breakdown of the offside rule on the FA’s official website. The Law can be found in Rule 11 of the virtual handbook.

Once you’ve come to terms with the offside rule, you should start betting on the most popular market for this type of wager: Total Match Offsides.

This is a simple market that takes just one statistic into account – offsides by both teams – and if you select the correct number of offsides during the game, your bet wins. Here’s a real example of the ‘Match Offsides’ market at SkyBet.

  • England take on Norway in the Women’s European Championships.
  • SkyBet are offering 5+ Offsides at 1.57 (285/500), 6+ at 2.10 (11/10), and 7+ at 2.88 (15/8).
  • You pick 6+ with a £15 stake.
  • If there are 6 or more offsides in the whole match, you’ll win £31.50.
Match Event Betting Market Explained - Match Offsides market at SkyBet
Match Event Betting Market Explained - My Bet Slip

Match Event Betting Strategy & Tips

Football is difficult to predict at the best of times. Premier League fixtures in particular are notorious for throwing up unexpected results, random events and huge upsets. With this in mind, a betting strategy is by far the best route to a good bet.

Match events are not team specific. Outcomes are based on the entire tie, not just individual player performances and statistics. Resultantly, we should look at both teams to decide which wager is best to pick.

End To End Games Are Shot-Heavy

The most creative teams generally take the highest number of shots. This is evidenced by the Premier League statistics for 2021/22, with Manchester City and Liverpool the top two sides in terms of attempts on goal (715 & 730). The Merseyside club and the current Premier League Champions struck on target more than 250 times each, racking up a combined total of 510. In recent games between these two giants, the following shot statistics were calculated:

  • FA Cup Semi-Final 21/22 – 21 Total Shots
  • Premier League, 10th April 2022 – 17 Total Shots
  • Premier League, 3rd October 2021 – 18 Total Shots

If you were to bet on 10+ or 15+ shots in any of these games, you’d have won money. Moreover, each of the last four meetings involving City and Liverpool saw over five shots on target. 

Other games to keep tabs on in the future for shooting markets are:

  • Liverpool vs Manchester United
  • Arsenal vs Tottenham
  • Chelsea vs Tottenham
  • Liverpool vs Chelsea

Every team mentioned in this section was listed in the top 6 for Shots in the 2021/22 Premier League season.

Big Game Bookings Are A Good Bet

It’s no secret that some teams dislike one another. This is especially true for teams based close to one another, with supporters of both sides keen to spew vitriol at their rivals. This is exasperated by overly emotional footballers lunging for the ball within the first few minutes of the game.

Perhaps the most obvious example of an intense, foul-ridden Premier League game involving local rivals came at Stamford Bridge in 2016. Tottenham were the visitors, clinging on to faint hope of a first-ever Premier League title. A loss would see that glimpse of hope destroyed.

As it was, Chelsea came from two goals down to rescue a point. In turn, they handed Leicester City a famous title win. Frustration was rife amongst the Spurs players, who ended the game with a whopping nine yellow cards. The match was later dubbed the “Battle at the Bridge”.

This fiery atmosphere is echoed by similarly bubbly rivalries up and down the nation. Other derbies and rivalries that often see cards handed out for fun by the referee are:

  • Liverpool vs Everton
  • Arsenal vs Tottenham
  • Manchester City vs Manchester United
  • Liverpool vs Manchester United

However, it’s not just the big teams that struggle to control their discipline. The top five clubs for yellow cards in 21/22’s Premier League were:

  1. Leeds United – 101
  2. Aston Villa – 79
  3. Newcastle United – 79
  4. Everton – 78
  5. Manchester United – 75

And the red cards list makes for similar reading:

  1. Everton – 6
  2. Arsenal – 4
  3. Aston Villa – 3
  4. Brentford – 3
  5. Leeds United – 3

Conor Rafter
Conor Rafter

I’m a freelance writer who loves all things sports & betting related. Having worked in this field since 2018, I’ve experienced a wide range of intriguing bookmakers and online casinos. With this expertise, I strive to create helpful, honest articles. My primary goal is quite simple: to guide and inform readers using facts and analysis.

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