Betting on the first goalscorer in a football match has long been popular with football punters as it’s a very simple bet that is alive until the first goal is scored (as long as it’s not an own goal) and which generally offers better odds than you would find by simply betting on the outright result of the match, meaning a bigger return if your bets comes in.
As well as first goalscorer, bettors can also bet on a number of other goalscorer-related markets including last goalscorer and anytime goalscorer (see below for details of those and others), but the principles are the same for all: you are betting on a specific player to score during the match.
How do first, last or anytime goalscorer bets work?
Once you’ve joined an online bookmaker, you just need to negotiate your way to the football match of your choice, usually by selecting “football” from the main menu which is frequently found on the left of the screen on desktops or at the top on mobiles, then selecting the league/cup and then match you require.
You will find that big matches may have dedicated quick links to make navigation to them even easier, and because first/last/anytime scorer betting is a popular bet, these markets should be amongst the most prominent when you get to the fixture you want.
Then it is a case of simply selecting the player you want to back for your chosen goalscorer market, usually by clicking on the betting odds next to his/her name, which will add the selection to the betting slip. There you enter the stake you want to wager on that selection and confirm the bet.
Then you just need to sit back, watch the match and cross your fingers that your guy or gal scores as you have predicted.
Types of Goalscorer Bet
- First Goalscorer – Most of these bets are very simple, typified by the first goalscorer market which pays out if the player you back scores the first goal of the game. Note that if the first goal is an own goal, the scorer of the second goal counts as a winner for this bet (so in reality it is the ‘first [non-own] goalscorer).
- Last Goalscorer – The inverse of the first goalscorer, the last goalscorer pays out for those who back the player who scores the last (again, non-own) goal of the game. This bet gives you a better run for your money in some circumstances as it is ‘alive’ for the full match, as long as your player is on the pitch.
- Anytime Goalscorer – Another bet that is alive for the whole match is the anytime goalscorer market, though because it has a greater chance of coming in, the odds are shorter than for either of the two aforementioned markets (which tend to be more or less equal to one another).
- To Score Two or More Goals – As the name suggests, this one pays out if your player scores two or more goals in a given match.
- To Score a Hat-trick – As above but for your player to score a hat-trick. Big odds here.
- Scorecast – In a scorecast bet you not only select the player you think will score first, but also the correct score at the final whistle. This is a tough one to predict but the odds are correspondingly large, and if you strike it lucky (and you will need luck on your side to win this bet) you will be handsomely rewarded.
- Wincast – Like a scorecast, but slightly easier in that you pick the first scorer and the match result as opposed to the precise final score (home win, draw or away win), and hence the odds are not quite as large, although they are still bigger than just backing the first scorer.
- Other Goalscorer Bets – There are a growing number of goalscorer-related bets popping up as the bookies try to outdo one another, including backing a player to score first AND last, a player to score first OR last, a player to score in both halves, and the first player to score for their side.
Typical First or Last Goalscorer Odds
As mentioned, the odds in the first goalscorer and last goalscorer markets tend to be more or less the same. If we take the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in December 2014, these were some of the odds in the first goalscorer market:
- Robin van Persie – 9/2
- Wayne Rooney – 5/1
- Radamel Falcao – 11/2
- Angel Di Maria – 15/2
- Juan Mata – 8/1
- Rickie Lambert – 8/1
- Steven Gerrard – 14/1
- Phil Jones – 33/1
Typical Anytime Goalscorer Odds
Taking odds from the same match, you will see that the anytime scorer market is less rewarding, but obviously, you have a better chance of your bet coming in so it really is swings and roundabouts:
- Robin van Persie – 6/5
- Wayne Rooney – 13/10
- Radamel Falcao – 13/10
- Angel Di Maria – 27/10
- Juan Mata – 85/40
- Rickie Lambert – 3/1
- Steven Gerrard – 5/1
- Phil Jones – 12/1
Goalscorer Betting Strategy
Predicting which player will score in a particular football match is never that easy as those who play Fantasy Football will confirm, but given that the odds for nailing a first or last goalscorer bet can be handsome indeed, and even those for picking a player to score at any time can be well worth grabbing, it is no surprise that punters have a soft spot for goalscorer betting.
Of course, as with all bets, there are a number of factors that should be considered before you pick a player to score, and here we detail the main ones:
- Form – The goalscoring form of the player you are considering for a goalscorer bet is the key factor in assessing whether or not the odds for him to score first/last/anytime represent good value. Clearly a striker who has scored six goals in his last four matches is more likely to score in the next match than a defender who hasn’t netted since 2017, but then the odds will also reflect this.
- Past record against that team – Some players just have a knack of scoring against particular teams, such as Robin van Persie against Stoke, scoring 11 goals in his first 10 appearances against them, or Didier Drogba who scored 14 goals in his first 13 games against Arsenal. On the other hand, some players just can’t get on the scoresheet against certain teams, and they will be well aware of their records. Confidence or the lack thereof can be important factors, especially for a striker.
- Tactics of opponents – If you know a team is likely to defend deep and sit back in a particular game, it might not be a good idea to back a striker to score if his goals usually come from running in behind the backline. Conversely, he’d be the one to go for if you know a side holds a particularly high line that will leave gaps for him to exploit.
- Penalty takers – Always know which players are likely to be called upon to take a side’s penalties, especially who is next in line if the main penalty taker is not playing. Bookies sometimes miss this and thus you can get better odds on that player scoring than you should, especially if he doesn’t score many from open play.
Betting on any football market is, of course, subject to a number of random factors too, but as with all betting, if you put in some time and do some research you should soon find patterns, anomalies, under-priced bets and, hopefully, over-priced bets (the latter representing good value). And while it is tough to make long term profits from goalscorer betting, it is not impossible as long as you choose your bets wisely and don’t go chasing massive profits in favour of more modest returns from better value bets.
First Goalscorer Rules
The rules for the first goalscorer are generally quite straightforward, and in most cases it will be obvious exactly what has happened and if you have won your bet or not. However, there are a few little rules and unusual outcomes that can make things less clear so we will cover the major betting rules to be aware of for goalscorer bets. These may vary slightly from bookie to bookie so if in doubt check the rules of the relevant betting site, although most of these terms are fairly standardised.
- Own Goals – As explained, own goals do not count and so they are simply disregarded for the purposes of this bet.
- Substitutions – If your player starts on the bench and comes on after the first goal has been scored, bets on him to be first scorer will usually be void and your stake returned. Bets on last and anytime goalscorer will still stand. If your player is taken off having started the game, all bets will stand as normal.
- Player Doesn’t Play – If your player doesn’t make the bench or does but fails to come on, all bets are usually void.
- Debatable Goals – Bets are settled according to how the goal is allocated by either the official broadcaster or, more often, the Press Association. Subsequent changes made by the Premier League or other bodies will not be considered.
- Match Abandoned or Postponed – If a match is abandoned bets will stand on markets that already had a definitive winner such as first scorer or winning anytime scorer bets, whilst bets on the last goalscorer will be void. Postponed games rules vary but bets often stand if the game is rescheduled within a certain timeframe.