UEFA plans to change overtime rules for Champions League matches

Manchester City were heading towards Jude Bellingham's superb away goal at one point

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UEFA are considering changing the away goals rule that left Cristiano Ronaldo red-faced as Juventus crashed out of the Champions League.
There have been calls in recent seasons to abolish the rule that doubles the weight of away goals in the event of a two-set tie in European competition.

It spelled the end of Juve’s Champions League bid this season, when Sergio Oliveira’s 115th-minute free-kick went through Ronaldo’s legs after Porto held the Italian champions for two sets of 90 minutes.

Two minutes later, Adrien Rabiot came home victorious in the evening – but that wasn’t enough as the Serie A giants were knocked out away in the last 16 stages for the second season in a row.

UEFA are currently discussing an adjustment that would mean the away goals rule does not count for overtime draws.

Juventus crashed out of the Champions League after Sergio Oliveira’s free kick crossed Cristiano Ronaldo’s legs
(Image: REUTERS)

A final decision on any changes would be taken by the UEFA executive committee – which includes Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus and the powerful association of European clubs.

The away goals rule has been in place for 56 years, but there have been growing concerns about its continued relevance – especially as several Champions League and Europa League games have been played at venues neutral this season due to the pandemic.

But there have been calls for it to be dropped ahead of this season, with data showing more Champions League games have been won by visiting teams in recent years, while fewer clean sheets are being kept by local teams.

Arsene Wenger claimed, while at the helm of Arsenal, that he believed the rule was counterproductive in terms of encouraging attacking football.

Manchester City were heading towards Jude Bellingham’s superb away goal at one point
(Image: PA)

“I think the tactical weight of the away goal has become too much,” he said at a conference in 2008.

“The teams draw 0-0 at home and they are happy. Instead of having a positive effect, it has been tactically taken too far in modern play. It has the opposite effect of what it was supposed to have. This promotes good defense when playing at home.

In the UK, the away goals rule was dropped in the League Cup three years ago.

That same year, other top executives, including Jose Mourinho, Unai Emery and Massimiliano Allegri, joined Wenger in asking UEFA to reassess whether the rule was still relevant.

Arsène Wenger has already questioned the away goals rule
Arsène Wenger has already questioned the away goals rule

UEFA Deputy General Secretary Giorgio Marchetti said: “Coaches believe that scoring away goals is not as difficult as it has been in the past. They think the rule should be reviewed and that is what we will do. “

Advances in technology, travel, pitch quality and scouting mean that traveling to Europe is nowhere as intimidating as it was when the away goals rule was introduced.

However, long journeys to the other side of the continent – particularly in the Europa League with games played on Thursdays – can still disrupt teams’ scheduled and domestic training match lists.

Manchester City were exiting the Champions League after Jude Bellingham’s early goal on Wednesday scored 2-2 on aggregate with Borussia Dortmund having the away goal advantage.

But City fought back with goals from Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden to win the draw 4-2 over two innings.

Liverpool had the small comfort of an away goal as they hosted Real Madrid looking to reverse a 3-1 deficit – but a 0-0 draw at Anfield meant the 2019 champions left the competition.

Arsenal travel tonight to face Slavia Prague in the Europa League as their hosts scored an away goal in last week’s 1-1 draw at the Emirates.

Meanwhile, Manchester United are in a good position ahead of their home game against Granada after winning the away game 2-0.

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