In FIFA football matches, a Golden Goal is a goal scored in extra time which decides the outcome of a match. This is usually in a championship such as the World Cup. The rules were changed a few years ago in order to provide an exciting finish to crucial matches which would decide the outcome of knock-out championships.
Previously, if the result was a draw following the standard 90-minute period of play, extra time of 30 minutes would be played, and if the game was still undecided, this would be followed by a penalty shoot-out. Penalty shoot-outs are generally not liked by players and fans alike, since they rely largely on luck and players ability to cope with the pressures they are under as they step up to the spot. Under the previous rules, however, if both teams scored in extra time, a penalty shoot-out would still result. The Golden Goal allows the game to be decided in ‘open play’ without resorting to penalties, since the first goal to be scored will decide the match, bringing the game to a close with a clear winner.
An example of a Golden Goal was the one scored by Turkey against Senegal in the World Cup in Korea and Japan.
Golden goal is also the name of a type of sweepstake at football matches where you have to guess when the first goal of the match will happen. (Thanks to shimmer for this one).