Do away goals count in UEFA Champions League? Rule explained, why it changed in 2021/22 season

Liverpool and Manchester City are both bidding for a place in the final of this year’s competition.

The Champions League semi-finals are underway, with a significant amount of English interest still left in the competition.

While Chelsea’s defence of the title came to an end in the last round, both Manchester City and Liverpool will be hoping they can be the side to lift the trophy in Paris next month.

City got their semi-final clash against Real Madrid up and running in a pulsating 4-3 win at the Etihad on Tuesday evening, with the two sides playing out an enthralling end-to-end encounter.

For their part, Liverpool will hope to maximise on their 2-0 advantage when they travel to Villarreal’s El Madrigal stadium this evening, Tuesday 3 May 2022.

Salah and Van Dijk in training ahead of semi final clash
Salah and Van Dijk in training ahead of semi final clash
Salah and Van Dijk in training ahead of semi final clash

In previous UEFA competitions, away goals would have been of huge importance and would signify a higher chance of making it through to the next round.

However in 2021, the away goal rule was scrapped and will not be applied going forward.

What was the away goal rule?

The rule was implemented in order to determine the winner of a two-legged tie in cases where the two sides had scored the same number of goals on aggregate over the two matches.

If one team had scored more goals in away matches, then they would qualify for the next round.

It was a rule first introduced in 1965 and has been a crucial part of UEFA competitions since, but current UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin released a statement in June 2021 stating that it would no longer be used.

It read: “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 decline in home advantage, the UEFA Executive Committee has taken the correct decision in adopting the view that it is now longer appropriate for an away goal to carry more weight than one scored at home.”

Who has benefited from the rule in recent years?

Tottenham Hotspur were the last Premier League side to greatly benefit from this rule when they progressed to the 2019 men’s final after beating Manchester City on away goals in the quarter finals and then Ajax in the semis.

Spurs benefited from the away goal rule in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League
Spurs benefited from the away goal rule in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League
Spurs benefited from the away goal rule in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain and Porto both profited from away goals in the 2020/21 competition while PSG’s women also enjoyed success due to the rule in the same campaign.

When are the next set of Champions League matches?

The second leg of the semi final ties will be played on Tuesday May 3rd, while Man City take their slender first leg lead to Madrid on Wednesday May 4th.

Liverpool came out of their first leg win with a 2-0 win over Villarreal and will host the spanish side this evening.

All of the matches will be available to watch on BT Sport.