UEFA’s announcement that the away goals rule has been abolished from all of their competitions was warmly received by most football fans.
The rule has taken some stick over the years and in fairness to those that oppose it they’ve got some valid points, but there’s also some reasons why we think it should be kept.
Well, we say ‘good reasons’, there’s actually only one; it’s provided us with some absolute classics.
Here, 90min looks at some of the best games ever to have been made even better by the away goals rule – ranked all the way down to the best of them all.
Paris Saint-Germain’s trip to Bayern Munich saw them come away with a fantastic 3-2 win over the reigning European champions.
Les Parisiens knew they were within touching distance of the semi-finals, but when former PSG man Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting handed Bayern an away goal the tie swung back into the balance.
Without the away goals rule Hansi Flick’s side would probably have been happy to play for extra time as the game drew to a close, but with PSG still ahead on away goals the Bundesliga outfit flooded forward in search of a second.
PSG managed to hang on to reach the last four of the Champions League for the second season running, but more importantly we were treated to a proper barnstormer.
City rivals Milan and Inter were drawn against each other in the semi-final of the 2002/03 Champions League, with Carlo Ancelotti’s side holding out for a 0-0 draw in the first leg (technically their away leg but not really given they both play at San Siro).
The return leg saw Milan take a 1-0 lead thanks to Andriy Shevchenko, meaning Inter would need to score twice if they were to secure their place in the final.
Obafemi Martins’ late strike offered Inter hope, but despite a late onslaught from the home side they couldn’t find their way through as Milan went on to win the final against Juventus on penalties.
Barcelona and Chelsea have played out some quality contests in recent years and their 2012 Champions League meeting was no different.
Didier Drogba’s goal had given the Blues a slender first-leg league at Stamford Bridge, but it didn’t take long for Barça to level the scores – thanks to Sergio Busquets’ strike – before Andres Iniesta handed them the aggregate lead on the stroke of half time.
With John Terry already sent off by the time Iniesta had put Barcelona ahead, the home side were well and truly in the driving seat. But the game was then turned on its head as Ramires’ brilliant chip made the score 2-2 on aggregate with Chelsea leading on away goals.
Barça piled forward in the second half but just couldn’t find a winning goal, and with just seconds to play Fernando Torres broke free to put the game beyond doubt and nearly gave Gary Neville a heart attack.
‘The Ronaldo game’.
Real Madrid’s 3-1 first-leg win over Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu gave Sir Alex Ferguson’s side a mountain to climb.
The Red Devils threw absolutely everything they had at Los Blancos at Old Trafford in the reverse leg, but legendary forward Ronaldo just proved to be too good on the night.
The Brazilian hit a stunning hat-trick to all be assure his side of a place in the semi-finals, but United refused to admit defeat and kept coming back for more. The match was more like a basketball game at one point with both sides taking turns to attack, though United were eventually forced to admit defeat as they suffered a 6-5 loss on aggregate.
When Juventus signed Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018 the Portuguese superstar’s brief was simple; win us the Champions League.
After failing to muster more than a quarter-final appearance in his first two seasons in Turin, the 2020/21 edition of the competition represented another opportunity for the Old Lady to be crowned kings of Europe as they were handed a favourable draw against Porto in the last 16 – or so they thought.
Trailing 2-1 from the away leg, Juventus found themselves 3-1 behind on aggregate in the early stages before staging a comeback to win 2-1 on the night as they took the game into extra time.
Sergio Oliveira’s second goal of the night in the 115th minute sent the Porto players wild, and despite Adrien Rabiot’s late goal it would be the men from Portugal who progressed on away goals at the expense of Juventus.
One of the most iconic games in Champions League history.
Few people gave Roma a chance of overturning their 4-1 deficit against Barcelona in 2018, though Edin Dzeko’s early strike had the home side believing the impossible might just be on.
As Barcelona started to get a foothold in the game the tie looked to be petering out, before Daniele De Rossi’s penalty just before the hour mark reignited hope.
The away goals rule meant Roma required just one more to progress and in the 82nd minute Kostas Manolas wrote himself into Roma folklore by bagging their third of the night to send them through to the semi-final on away goals.
When Barcelona were thumped 4-0 by PSG in the Parc des Princes they really had hit rock bottom, but three goals in the first 50 minutes in the second leg at Camp Nou meant they were just one goal away from levelling the scores.
However, Edinson Cavani’s strike shortly past the hour mark handed the Ligue 1 side a crucial away goal, but if anything the setback only seemed to make the Barcelona side even more determined.
They flooded forward desperately looking for the three goals they would need to book their place in the next round, yet even after Neymar had bagged a brace it looked to be too little too late with just minutes left to play – or so we thought.
Sergi Roberto’s unbelievable 95th minute goal meant the the home side edged ahead on aggregate as they completed arguably the greatest comeback in Champions League history,
VAR has been criticised a lot since it was introduced into our beautiful game, but its contribution to Manchester City’s tie against Tottenham in 2019 will never be forgotten.
After Spurs had won the first leg 1-0, the two teams played out the most bonkers start to a game we’ve ever seen at the Etihad Stadium a few weeks later, with five goals scored in the opening 21 minutes.
Sergio Aguero’s second-half goal made it 4-2 to City on the night before Fernando Llorente swung the tie back into Spurs’ favour by making it 4-3 and subsequently 4-4 on aggregate with Spurs leading on away goals.
City needed a winner and they flooded forward in search of one, and when Raheem Sterling put the ball in the net in injury time they looked to have done it – only for VAR to intervene and rule the strike out for offside,
Another meeting between Chelsea and Barcelona now and this time it involves one of the most memorable goals ever.
The Blues had done well to navigate their way to a stalemate at Camp Nou in the first leg and they knew a win at Stamford Bridge would take them through to the 2009 Champions League final.
When Michael Essien’s stunning volley handed Chelsea the lead early on everything seemed to be going to plan, but the home side knew they were going to face an onslaught in the second half.
Barça piled forward but the Chelsea backline stood strong, yet when the ball rolled towards Iniesta on the edge of the area in stoppage time the Spanish magician pulled a rabbit out of the hat to slam the ball past Petr Cech as the La Liga giants progressed on away goals.
Tottenham seem to have a habit of making use of the away goal – suppose the fact it’s now being taken away makes sense then given nothing seems to be going right for them at the moment.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men had it all to do in the second leg having lost the home leg 1-0, but when Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech made it 3-0 on aggregate it was pretty much curtains for the north Londoners.
However, Lucas Moura’s double in the second half had Spurs thinking the impossible might just be on, and the Brazilian’s hat-trick goal in extra time bagged a sensational victory on away goals as they made it to their maiden Champions League final.