2–0 lead is the worst lead

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"2–0 lead is the worst lead" is a cliché[1] used in sporting contests,[2][3] to describe the situation in which one team is leading by a score of 2–0.[4] The phrase is most common in association football, where it is sometimes applied only to the scoreline at half-time. It is sometimes also encountered in other sports where 2-0 is a moderately large lead, such as ice hockey.


The underlying concept is that, a team which is leading 2-0 will be complacent[5] and have a 'false sense of security' in their lead.[6] If the trailing team then scores to make it 2-1, the leading team can panic and concede further, resulting in a draw, or even a win for the other team. In contrast, a team which is leading 1-0 will tend to concentrate and play with intensity to protect or extend their narrow lead, whilst teams leading by three or more goals have a sufficiently large buffer that comebacks are unlikely.

The cliché may be invoked by coaches to encourage their players to maintain effort levels after obtaining a two-goal lead.[7] It can also be used in broadcasting, such as by a commentator or studio pundit, to suggest that the final result is still in doubt, thereby maintaining audience interest in a game.

There is little evidence that 2-0 is the worst lead in practice. In football, a team leading 2-0 at half-time only goes on to lose the game in about 2% of cases.[8][9] In ice hockey, statistics show that if a team builds a two-goal advantage, they go on to win the game in the majority of instances, and that a one-goal lead is far more dangerous.[10] As a result, the cliché is often used in full knowledge that 2-0 is not in fact the worst possible lead.[11][12]

Examples of usage[edit]

The cliché was popularized by Czech football coach and television commentator Josef Csaplár in the Czech football community. His use of the term suggested that a 2–0 half-time lead could only end in a defeat and the cliché is known in the Czech Republic as Csaplár's trap (Czech: Csaplárova past).[13][14]

In Serbia, the cliché is known for being used by manager and former player Milan Živadinović.[15]

The cliché was also used by Australian former player and TV broadcaster Johnny Warren.[16] Television pundit and former English footballer Gary Lineker raised the cliché when commenting on a 2016 match between Bournemouth and Liverpool, in which Liverpool led by 2–0 at half-time but ended up losing 4–3.[17]


  1. ^ News, A. B. C. (2014-05-22). "Proof 2-0 is a most dangerous lead". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  2. ^ Popik, Barry. "The worst lead in hockey is a two-goal lead". www.barrypopik.com. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  3. ^ "4 Reasons Why a 2-0 Lead is Ice Hockey's Worst Lead". LinkedIn. 2016-12-09.
  4. ^ "2:0 - TheNH most dangerous score in the game". Goalden. 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  5. ^ M, Alex (2007-06-22). "Kicker Conspiracy: The most dangerous lead". Kicker Conspiracy. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  6. ^ "2-0, the cliché goes, is the most dangerous scoreline". Montreal Impact. 2016-12-09.
  7. ^ "The Most Dangerous Lead in Soccer: 2-0". Soccer Classroom. 2011-06-27. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  8. ^ "The last time United suffered defeat after a two-goal was in 1984". Mail Online. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  9. ^ "OptaJoe on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  10. ^ ""The Most Dangerous Lead in Hockey" – Fact or Myth?". PuckScene.com. 2011-08-19. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  11. ^ Taylor, Mark (2016-03-06). "The Power of Goals.: "Martinez Blows Most Dangerous of Leads"!". The Power of Goals. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  12. ^ "Debunking the myth of the 'dangerous two-nil lead'". The World Game. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  13. ^ o2sport.cz (2015-09-07). "Csaplár efekt se nepotvrdil, Francie volá národní tým!". O2 Sport (in Czech). Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  14. ^ "Bednář a Lafata si překáželi. Plzeň skřípla Csaplárova past". Aktuálně.cz - Víte co se právě děje. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  15. ^ Mozzart Sport (2016-03-04). "Kako ono reče Živa – 2:0 je najopasniji rezultat" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  16. ^ Mangan, Patrick (2010). Offsider - a Memoir: How a Scrawny Pommy Kid Learned to Love the Socceroos. Australia: Melbourne University Publishing. p. 207. ISBN 978-0522857214. At some stage in the previous twenty minutes, in the TV gantry not far of us, Johnny Warren no doubt uttered one of his favourite truisms: that a 2-0 is a dangerous lead. It breeds complacency, he liked to say. The Socceroos didn't needed reminding - now.
  17. ^ "Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool". BBC Sport. 2016-12-04. Retrieved 2016-12-09.