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Do away goals count in the Champions League this season?  2021/22 tournament set to see major change as Chelsea start title defense


The Champions League is all about the away goals rule and creates biting late drama in the knockout stages.

However, this season the rule is expected to be abolished, as UEFA’s governing body announced earlier this year.

Barcelona surprised PSG with a stunning comeback in their infamous Champions League game in 2017

Previously, excitement ensued when it came to determining whether a team had qualified, as the goals were plentiful and quick and the overall score kept changing.

We often heard confusing assumptions from commentators as to how many goals a team would need, and then if the home team were to score again it would cause even more confusion.

You can now put away your calculators, as the traditional method is introduced for the 2021/22 season.

However, don’t go and celebrate the rule change just yet.

Away goals created some memorable moments

Away goals were, so often, the deciding factor in the knockout stages of competition in years past.

The drama of Chelsea’s 1-1 draw against Barcelona in 2009 showed how the away goal rule can generate an exciting game.

Andres Iniesta scored a sensational goal in the dying seconds of this Champions League semi-final, sending a frenzy of emotions around Stamford Bridge.

Do away goals count in the Champions League this season?  2021/22 tournament set to see major change as Chelsea start title defense
Iniesta celebrates last-minute equalizer to send Barcelona to Champions League final in 2009

Fans away were suddenly overjoyed as Chelsea fell silent, shocked and helpless as the final slipped away from them in an instant.

The La Liga side got a 1-1 draw, but due to the away goal rule it was actually a decisive winner instead.

Another London club have been involved in the last-second equalizer drama, courtesy of Lucas Moura of Tottenham.

The Brazilian’s hat-trick sent Spurs to the Champions League final in 2019 after a sensational 3-3 comeback against Ajax.

Do away goals count in the Champions League this season?  2021/22 tournament set to see major change as Chelsea start title defense
Moura and Dele Alli celebrate Spurs’ return to Ajax in 2019 semi-final

Ajax players fell to the ground in disbelief as Moura scored with the last kick of the game, as the away goal rule created another moment of glory.

We also may not have had another dramatic game – La Remontada (The Return) – which saw Barcelona make the most unlikely comeback to beat Paris Saint-Germain 6-5 on aggregate in 2017.

What was the away goals rule?

The rule itself was quite simple, if two teams were tied in total after two matches, then the team with the most away goals would be the winner.

For example, if Manchester United against Barcelona ended 1-1 in the first leg, but the second leg was a 2-2 draw, United would take the 3-3 victory overall as they scored the most away goals.

When and why was the away goal rule set?

UEFA announced the decision on June 24, 2021 following a “wide consultation process across football”.

In fact, it’s not just the Champions League, it’s all UEFA club competitions that will see this new law apply.

Do away goals count in the Champions League this season?  2021/22 tournament set to see major change as Chelsea start title defense
The Champions League trophy, as defending champions Chelsea look to defend it this year

This means we could see many more examples of overtime and penalties than ever before in the Champions League this season and beyond.

Part of the reason for this change is that over the years the home advantage has stabilized somewhat.

UEFA said: “From the mid-1970s until now, there is a clear trend of continued narrowing of the gap between home and away wins.”

The average number of goals per game scored at home / away (from 2.02 / 0.95 to 1.58.1.15) in men’s competitions has also fallen.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “The away goals rule has been an integral part of UEFA competitions since its introduction in 1965.

“However, the question of its abolition has been debated at various UEFA meetings in recent years.

“Although there was no unanimity of views, many coaches, supporters and other players in football questioned its fairness and expressed their preference for abolishing the rule.

“The impact of the rule now defeats its original purpose as, in fact, it now deters home teams – especially in the first leg – from attacking, as they fear conceding a goal that would result in to their opponents a crucial advantage.

“There are also criticisms of the injustice, especially in overtime, of forcing the home team to score twice when the away team has scored.”

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