The away-goals rule has been a long-standing rule associated with UEFA club competitions, often adding a sense of excitement and thrill to the drama that comes with European club football.
However, the rule has been scrapped with immediate effect, meaning it will not be used in the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League next season, directly impacting Chelsea, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively.
With the rule having been removed, ties in which the two teams score the same number of goals over the two legs would not be decided on the number of away goals scored, instead with two 15-minute periods of extra time at the end of the second-leg. If the scoreline was to remain the same following an additional half an hour, a penalty shoot-out would determine the outcome of the tie and decided who progresses to the next stage of the competition.
On deciding to abolish the rule, UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin said: “The away goals rule has been an intrinsic part of UEFA competitions since it was introduced in 1965.
“However, the question of its abolition has been debated at various UEFA meetings over the last few years. Although there was no unanimity of views, many coaches, fans and other football stakeholders have questioned its fairness and have expressed a preference for the rule to be abolished.
“The impact of the rule now runs counter to its original purpose as, in fact, it now dissuades home teams – especially in first legs – from attacking, because they fear conceding a goal that would give their opponents a crucial advantage.
“There is also criticism of the unfairness, especially in extra time, of obliging the home team to score twice when the away team has scored.
“It is fair to say that home advantage is nowadays no longer as significant as it once was. Taking into consideration the consistency across Europe in terms of styles of play, and many different factors which have led to a decline in home advantage, the UEFA Executive Committee has taken the correct decision in adopting the view that it is no longer appropriate for an away goal to carry more weight than one scored at home.”
UEFA did contemplate scrapping away-goals rule back in 2018 after calls from managers, but, ultimately, there was not enough support for that decision to be carried through and brought to fruition.
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel and former Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho are claimed to be amongst those who called for the rule to be ditched in previous years.
Manchester United star Juan Mata reacts to winning major UEFA award
The 33-year-old Spaniard has been chosen as one of three recipients for the accolade that celebrates outstanding work in promoting inclusion and diversity within the sport.
Mata and the other winners – Khalida Popal and the German Football Association (DFB) – are set to be honoured at the same time as UEFA hold the Nations League draw.
That ceremony will be streamed by the governing body from 6pm tomorrow evening.
An official statement from UEFA outlines that Mata, and his contemporaries have demonstrated ‘outstanding leadership qualities in creating a more open, diverse and accessible game’ while each of them has also ‘provided a powerful example to follow’ with their respective acts.
Capped 41 times by Spain, the United midfielder has only played 151 minutes this season, but continues to shine off the pitch with his work for Common Goal; a charity he co-founded in 2017.
Common Goal makes positive change in socially challenged communities – using football’s power and popularity to tackle gender inequality, promote inclusion and provide more opportunities for underprivileged children.
Mata said: “I was proud of the work that our organisations are doing there and proud of the stories of people that have overcome difficult problems. This is what we want to do through Common Goal, give people choice to decide their futures.”
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin added: “Each of the three Equal Game Award winners is a fine example of how football can be used as a catalyst for positive change. They can and should be very proud of their achievements and I would like to personally thank them for their exemplary leadership that will, hopefully, inspire many others.”
Ronaldo’s crazy record against Atletico
The Portugal international has taken to the field against Atleti more times than any other opponent in his club career, 35, scoring a remarkable 25 goals against a team that was a derby opponent during his trophy-laden stay at Real Madrid.
He has also registered nine assists against them and picked up 11 yellow cards, perhaps illustrating there is understandably no love lost with the Rojiblanco.
🇵🇹 Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 25 goals in 35 games against Atlético, including two hat-tricks in the knockouts 🔥@Cristiano | #UCLdraw | #UCL pic.twitter.com/S4wUeLMgs2
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 14, 2021
The next most frequent opponents for Ronaldo are Barcelona, and he has managed 20 goals in 34 games against the Catalan giants.
However, his history with Atletico is worth examining in more detail. As has been pointed out, every knockout tie in the Champions League that the capital club lost between 2014 and 2019 was at the hands of a side containing Cristiano.
He was influential in their downfall in both the 2014 and 2016 finals of the competition.
In Lisbon, he provided the icing on the cake with a 120th-minute penalty to make it 4-1 in Real’s favour, after Diego Godin’s goal looked to be earning Atletico the trophy for the first time in their history.
Sergio Ramos popped up with a dramatic late leveller, with Gareth Bale and Marcelo also going on to score in extra-time.
Two years later, in Milan, Ronaldo struck the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.
Cristiano continued to be the scourge of Atleti after moving to Juventus. In March 2019, the Madrid side held a commanding 2-0 lead from the first leg heading to Turin but were undone by a hat-trick from their nemesis.
Ronaldo netted two fine headers before completing the turnaround with a penalty, four minutes from time.
This came after another treble against them in the 2017 Champions League semi-finals.
He never faced Atletico while with United but will now get that opportunity after the two clubs were drawn together in European competition for the first time since 1991.
Champions League exit ‘confirmed’ as Man United fans fear the worst with Atletico Madrid draw
Manchester United will lock horns with Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League.
Following UEFA’s decision to void this morning’s draw, which saw United pitted up against French outfit Paris Saint-Germain, the draw was this afternoon conducted for a second time in Nyon.
United, who were part of the issue that saw the original draw re-done, will now face Atletico over two legs in a bid to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2019.
United’s supporters were furious when the original draw was made, with the mistake committed by those making the draw, after their ball being put back into the incorrect bowl.
However, the draw ran much more smoothly at the second time of asking and United were pitted against different opponents, although it promises to be a stern challenge against Diego Simeone’s side.
Below, MEN Sport has taken a close look to see what they have had to say.
Although United’s supporters wanted the ties to be redrawn, some of them are not happy about the fact that they are now going to have to face Atletico.
They fear that with the way the Spanish side set-up, using their low block and defensive-minded tactics, that it could be a problem for United to get the better of.
PSG would have, most likely, attacked United a lot more than what Atletico may do, leaving gaps for United to catch them on the counter-attack.
However, Atletico are a side renowned for soaking up pressure and making life awkward for opponents.
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