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Myths: Is 2-0 the worst lead?

17 July 2017 National Sport


Last Updated: 17/07/17 12:50pm

Is a 2-0 lead the most dangerous winning margin?

Is a 2-0 lead the most dangerous winning margin?

They say a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous winning margin – but is it? We’ve checked Opta data to bust the myth…

The theory suggests that teams with two-goal leads become complacent and are more likely to concede victory than teams with a one-goal advantage – who maintain concentration because of the slender margin.

In total, 2,766 teams have held a two-goal advantage during a game since the Premier League kicked off in August 1992.

Of those, a staggering 2,481 ended up winning the fixture, with only 212 ending in draws and 73 with defeats.

Therefore, 90 per cent of teams that gain a two-goal lead win the game, 7.4 per cent draw and only 2.6 per cent suffer defeat.

A one-goal lead is far more vulnerable than a two-goal advantage

A one-goal lead is far more vulnerable than a two-goal advantage

A one-goal lead is far more vulnerable than a two-goal advantage

Teams with a one-goal advantage are far less likely to win. Of the 5,721 sides that have been one goal ahead during the Premier League era, only 2,987 won the game, 1,747 drew and 987 lost.

Remarkably, that’s only a 52.2 per cent win rate, with 30.5 per cent ending all square and 17.3 per cent losing the fixture.

A one-goal winning margin means a team is 37.8 per cent less likely to win the game than a team with a two-goal advantage.

So, a 1-0 winning margin is far more vulnerable than a 2-0 lead.

And the odds of victory are slashed even more drastically with a three-goal winning margin.

Since August 1992, 1,119 teams have led by three goals and 1,099 of those claimed three points – that’s a 98.2 per cent win rate.

In 25 years, only 16 teams have fought back from three goals down to secure a draw and just four have overturned the deficit to win – that’s 0.4 per cent.

Extraordinary Premier League comebacks

In chronological order, Leeds overturned Derby’s 3-0 advantage at Elland Road in November 1997, with Rod Wallace reducing the deficit in the 37th minute and Lee Bowyer claiming all three points in the 90th minute.

Leeds Utd 4-3 Derby County

Leeds Utd 4-3 Derby County

Leeds Utd 4-3 Derby County

Wimbledon achieved the same feat in fewer minutes the following year after John Hartson’s goal and a quick double from Ian Wright had put West Ham 3-0 up with just 27 minutes on the clock, before Jason Euell, Efan Ekoku and two goals from Marcus Gayle sealed a 4-3 winning comeback.

West Ham 3-4 Wimbledon

West Ham 3-4 Wimbledon

West Ham 3-4 Wimbledon

Perhaps the most extraordinary comeback came in September 2001, when Manchester United trailed Tottenham 3-0 at half-time through strikes from Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege.

Andy Cole started United’s comeback within a minute of the restart, before goals from Laurent Blanc, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastian Veron and David Beckham sealed a memorable 5-3 victory at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham 3-5 Man Utd

Tottenham 3-5 Man Utd

Tottenham 3-5 Man Utd

Wolves were the last team to overturn a three-goal deficit and claim victory in October 2003, cancelling a Les Ferdinand brace and Riccy Scimeca goal with second-half strikes from Alex Rae, Henri Camara and Colin Cameron scoring twice.

Wolves 4-3 Leicester

Wolves 4-3 Leicester

Wolves 4-3 Leicester

Only one team in the entire Premier League era have come back to share the spoils after falling four goals or more behind.

Arsenal squandered a 4-0 advantage on 68 minutes against Newcastle in February 2011 to end up drawing 4-4 at St James’ Park.

Theo Walcott, Johan Djourou and two goals from Robin Van Persie had given the Gunners a commanding lead before the break.

However, Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby was sent off five minutes after the restart, before the Magpies grabbed four goals in 19 minutes through Leon Best, the late Cheick Tiote goal and two penalties from Joey Barton.

Newcastle 4-4 Arsenal

Newcastle 4-4 Arsenal

Newcastle 4-4 Arsenal

Let us know your favourite myths and comebacks on Twitter . We will be busting more common myths every day this week.


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