Away goals rule

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The away goals rule is a method of breaking ties in association football and other sports when teams play each other twice, once at each team's home ground. By the away goals rule, the team that has scored more goals "away from home" wins, if the total goals scored by each team are otherwise equal. This is sometimes expressed by saying that away goals "count double" in the event of a tie. [1]

In games and sports, a tiebreaker or tiebreak is used to determine a winner from among players or teams that are tied at the end of a contest, or a set of contests.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Road (sports) sporting event held at a location other than a teams home facilities

A road game or away game is a sports game where the specified team is not the host and must travel to another venue. Most professional teams represent cities or towns and amateur sports teams often represent academic institutions. Each team has a location where it practices during the season and where it hosts games.

Contents

The away goals rule is most often invoked in two-leg fixtures, where the initial result is determined by the aggregate score — i.e. the scores of both games are added together. In many competitions, the away goals rule is the first tie-breaker in such cases, with a penalty shootout as the second tie-breaker if each team has scored the same number of away goals. Rules vary as to whether the away goals rule applies only to the end of normal time of the second leg, or applies in extra time as well. It was first introduced by UEFA in the 1965–66 European Cup Winners' Cup.

In sports, a two-legged tie is a contest between two teams which comprises two matches or "legs", with each team as the home team in one leg. The winning team is usually determined by aggregate score, the sum of the scores of the two legs. For example, if the scores of the two legs are:

UEFA international sport governing body

The Union of European Football Associations is the administrative body for association football, futsal and beach soccer in Europe, although several member states are primarily or entirely located in Asia. It is one of six continental confederations of world football's governing body FIFA. UEFA consists of 55 national association members.

The 1965–66 season of the European Cup Winners' Cup club football tournament was won by Borussia Dortmund in an extra-time final victory at Hampden Park against Liverpool. This edition of the European Cup Winners' Cup was the very first competition in history to apply the away goals rule.

Explanation

Example A

In the first leg, the final score is: Team A (Home) 1–0 Team B (Away).

In the second leg, the final score is: Team A (Away) 0–1 Team B (Home).

In this example, the aggregate score is 1–1, but as neither team scored an away goal, the match will progress to the next tie-breaker, extra time.

Example B

In the first leg, the final score is: Team A (Home) 1–0 Team B (Away).

In the second leg, the final score is: Team A (Away) 1–2 Team B (Home).

In this example, the aggregate score is 2–2. However, because Team A scored an away goal in the second leg while Team B, in the first leg, did not, Team A will progress to the next stage of the competition as an away goal accounts for two goals

Rationale

Originally, the away goal rule was introduced in football as an expedited way of doing away with playoffs or tie breakers on neutral grounds to resolve a logistical, physical and calendar problem when two teams were so closely matched the final score over the two legs remained in absolute parity, which could remain even after a third game tie breaker. Now, the away goals rule is intended to encourage the away team to be more aggressive. In football, at least, it sometimes[ when? ] leads to a nervous first leg: the home team is unwilling to commit large numbers of players to attack lest they concede a goal, whilst the away team attempts to snatch an away goal to aid them in the second leg. Such tactics arguably make the second leg more exciting, after a low-scoring first leg leaves both sides with a chance to win. There are sometimes debates[ where? ] over whether the away goals rule gives an unfair advantage to the team playing away first — with the other team squandering their home advantage in the first leg due to away goal fears — and this may be a factor in its somewhat patchy adoption for competitions.[ citation needed ]

There is also the issue that if extra time is played in the second leg, the away team gets an extra 30 minutes to take advantage of the away goals rule. This can be countered by the fact that in extra time, the home team has the advantage of playing the extra 30 minutes at home.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that most teams feel an away goal puts them in the driving seat, such as Liverpool being able to draw 1–1 at Arsenal in the 2008 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals; Liverpool did eliminate Arsenal to advance to the semifinals. [2] Liverpool won the second game 4–2, making the aggregate score for the tie Liverpool 5–3 Arsenal, therefore, the away goal scored by Liverpool in the first leg was not required. [3] Many commentators have described the importance of a team being able to score an away goal, even when losing that leg of the tie, as it mathematically does give that team a chance to redeem itself on home soil by leveling the tie on aggregate while using the away goal as a tiebreaker. [4] For example, in the 2007 UEFA Champions League round of 16, while Bayern Munich lost the first leg 3–2 at Real Madrid, Bayern later won 2–1 at home to level the tie on aggregate, but it was Bayern's away goals scored during their first leg loss that let them advance. [5] In a recent instance, at the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League semi-finals, despite falling 4–1 in the first leg at Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid would have been able to advance if at home it managed to hold Dortmund to 3–0; during the second leg Real Madrid scored two goals in the last ten minutes but were unable to score the third goal that would have sent them through to the final (Dortmund advanced 4-3 on aggregate). In the other semifinal, however, after F.C. Barcelona was shut out at Bayern Munich 4–0, commentators considered Barcelona essentially eliminated because Bayern could seal the tie by scoring one away goal even if Barcelona managed to score five goals (Bayern managed a 3-0 win in the second leg to advance 7-0 on aggregate). [6]

2012–13 UEFA Champions League football tournament

The 2012–13 UEFA Champions League was the 58th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 21st season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League.

Borussia Dortmund German association football club

Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund, commonly known as Borussia Dortmund[boˈʁʊsi̯aː ˈdɔʁtmʊnt], BVB, or simply Dortmund, is a German sports club based in Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia. Founded in 1909 by eighteen football players from Dortmund, the football team is part of a large membership-based sports club with more than 145,000 members, making BVB the second largest sports club by membership in Germany. Dortmund plays in the Bundesliga, the top tier of the German football league system.

The away goals rule can result in the "lead" of the two-legged tie swinging back and forth. For instance, in the 2005 UEFA Champions League round of 16 between Barcelona and Chelsea, Barcelona was ahead on aggregate after a 2–1 win in the first leg at home. During the second leg held in London, Chelsea first scored three straight goals to take the lead on aggregate (4–2), but Barcelona responded with two goals to level the aggregate score at 4–4 while taking the lead on away goals (2–1). Chelsea scored again, though, to advance on aggregate, 5–4. [7] In the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League semi-finals between Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and A.F.C. Ajax, Ajax led the tie from the 15th minute of the first leg (in a 1-0 away victory in London) until the 95th minute of the second leg (at that point still up 3-2 on aggregate), when Tottenham's Lucas Moura completed a hat trick in Amsterdam that leveled the aggregate score at 3-3 while eliminating Ajax on away goals 3-1. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, commonly referred to as Tottenham or Spurs, is a professional football club in Tottenham, London, England, that competes in the Premier League. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been the club's home ground since April 2019, replacing their former home of White Hart Lane, which had been demolished to make way for the new stadium on the same site. Their training ground is on Hotspur Way in Bulls Cross in the London Borough of Enfield. Tottenham have played in a first (home) strip of white shirts and navy blue shorts since the 1898–99 season. The club's emblem is a cockerel standing upon a football, with a Latin motto Audere est Facere.

Lucas Moura Brazilian association football player

Lucas Rodrigues Moura da Silva, known as Lucas Moura or simply Lucas, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a right winger for English club Tottenham Hotspur and the Brazil national team.

Usage

The away goals rule is applied in many football competitions that involve two-leg fixtures, including the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, CAF Champions League, CAF Confederation Cup and any two-legged playoffs in qualification for the FIFA World Cup or European Championships.

UEFA Champions League European association football tournament for clubs

The UEFA Champions League is an annual club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by top-division European clubs. It is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football, played by the national league champions of the strongest UEFA national associations.

UEFA Europa League annual association football club competition organized by UEFA since 1971

The UEFA Europa League is an annual football club competition organised by UEFA since 1971 for eligible European football clubs. Clubs qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and cup competitions. It is the elite-tier competition of European club football, ranking below the UEFA Champions League.

CAF Champions League football competition run by the Confederation of African Football

The CAF Champions League is an annual continental club football competition run by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The top club sides from Africa's football leagues are invited to participate in this competition, which is the premier club football competition in the continent and the equivalent to the UEFA Champions League. Due to sponsorship reasons, the official name is Total CAF Champions League, with Total Champions League also in use.

From 2014 until 2018, Major League Soccer in the U.S. and Canada used the away goals rule in the MLS Cup Playoffs, in which the conference semifinals and finals (the quarterfinals and semifinals of the overall tournament) are two-legged. [14] The rule was first applied in this competition when the Seattle Sounders defeated FC Dallas in the 2014 Western Conference Semifinals. In the 2019 MLS season, two-legged ties were eliminated in favour of a single-elimination knockout format throughout the entire MLS Cup Playoffs. [15]

In CONMEBOL competitions before 2005, for example, the Copa Libertadores, CONMEBOL used neither the away goals rule nor extra time in any of its competitions. Ties that were level on aggregate went to an immediate penalty shootout. Since 2005, two-legged ties have been decided on points, followed by goal difference and the away goals rule; if the result is still tied, the penalty shootout is used. The Copa Libertadores finals became the only exception to the away goals rule and also only in the finals is employed extra time. In Latin America, an example of a tournament that used the away goal rule was the Copa do Brasil (Brazil Cup) until the 2017 edition.

The away goals rule is sometimes used in round robin competitions (that is, leagues or qualifying groups), where it may be used to break ties involving more than two teams. For example, away goals are the third tiebreaker in the group stage of both the UEFA Champions League [16] and UEFA Cup. [17] In Group C of the UEFA Champions League 2000–01, Olympique Lyonnais took the second qualifying spot ahead of Olympiacos on away goals. [18] Because other tiebreakers take precedence, the away goals rule is rarely invoked in such tournaments. In many group tournaments, the away goals rule is never applicable; for example, in World Cup qualification. [19]

The away goals rule was first applied in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup when Budapest Honvéd beat Dukla Prague in the second round in 1965–66. It was introduced in the Fairs Cup in 1966–67, [20] and in the European Cup in 1967–68 for the first round, [21] 1968–69 for the second round, [22] and 1970–71 for later rounds. [23] Previously, ties level on aggregate had gone to a playoff on neutral ground. [24]

Anomalies

If the two clubs contesting a two-legged fixture share the same stadium, each club may be the home club in one leg, and the rule may still apply. For example, the 2003 UEFA Champions League Semi-Finals drew Inter Milan and AC Milan together. Both legs were played at the San Siro, their shared stadium in Milan:

With an aggregate of 1–1, AC Milan was declared the winner because they were the "away" side in the second game. In this example, as in many such cases, most tickets for each leg will be reserved for the "home" side's fans, so the designation was not totally arbitrary.

Not all competitions with the away goals rule suffer from this anomaly, however: the Copa do Brasil has developed its rules to avoid some anomalies, such as the above. In that Cup, if two teams share either the same stadium or the same home town, neither is considered the home club and thus the away goals rule does not apply. This exception was seen, for example, in the 2006 final between Flamengo and Vasco, when both legs were played at the Maracanã Stadium.

More anomalous was a qualification play-off for the 1991 World Youth Championship between Australia and Israel: Australia won on away goals even though, due to security concerns arising from the First Intifada, Israel's "home" leg was played in Australia. [25] The same situation occurred in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification tie between the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands, when the Bahamas advanced on the away goals rule even though both legs were played in the Bahamas. [26]

There has been at least one case of a wrong application of the away goals rule by a referee in an international club tournament. It happened in a second-round tie in the 1971–72 European Cup Winners' Cup between Rangers and Sporting Clube de Portugal. This fixture had the following scorelines:

Since the teams were now level 6–6 on aggregate, the Dutch referee Laurens van Raavens ordered a penalty shootout, which Sporting won 3–0. Rangers appealed the loss, however, on the grounds that Van Raavens should not have ordered the shootout, since the Rangers goal in extra time in Lisbon gave them a lead of three away goals to two. Rangers won the appeal and went on to win the Cup Winners' Cup that season.

CONCACAF has a different rule for its CONCACAF Champions League, employing away goals at the end of full-time of the second leg, but not applying the rule at the end of extra time. MLS adopted this version of the rule for its playoffs in 2014. [14] For example, the semifinal of the 2008–09 CONCACAF Champions League between Cruz Azul and the Puerto Rico Islanders had the following scorelines:

Since CONCACAF does not apply the away goals rule for goals scored after extra time, the game went to a penalty shootout, which Cruz Azul won 4–2.

The away goals rule can also apply to forfeited matches. Celtic lost their away tie to Legia Warsaw 4–1 in the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. In their home leg, Legia brought on an ineligible player which automatically gave Celtic a 3–0 win. The forfeiture meant that the tie ended 4–4, meaning Celtic qualified to the next round on away goals. [27]

Summary

Below is a summary of the variations of rules and examples of current competitions using those rules for two legged-ties. In most examples in the table below, a penalty shoot-out is used to determine the winner if all criteria used remain tied. The exception is the Liga MX play-offs (except final), where the higher seed, which has the better regular season record, wins the tie if the aggregate score and away goals are both level. However, in the Liga MX play-off final, neither the away goals rule nor the regular season record is applied as tie-breakers, and if tied after regulation and extra time, the penalty shoot-out is used to determine the winner.

Aggregate score is level after regulation (90 mins) of second leg
Away goals rule applied after regulation time?Extra time played?Away goals rule applied after extra time?Current examples
YesYesYes FIFA World Cup qualification
UEFA Champions League and Europa League
YesYesNo AFC Champions League and AFC Cup
(MLS Cup Playoffs 2014–2018; one leg since 2019)
YesNoN/A Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana
Liga MX play-offs (except final)
NoYesYesNone currently
(EFL Cup semi-finals until 2017–18)
NoYesNo English Football League play-off semi-finals
Liga MX play-off finals
NoNoN/A Copa do Brasil
EFL Cup semi-finals (since 2018–19)

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