UEFA have confirmed a major change for next season’s Champions League and Europa League – by scrapping the away goals rule.
The law previously gave a significant advantage to sides who hit the back of the net on the road, but drew criticism from many fans.
On Thursday, Uefa announced the rule had been ditched after long negotiations over its role in the modern game.
SunSport revealed in April that plans were initially afoot to only count away goals scored inside 90 minutes, not extra-time.
But European football’s governing body will now go ahead with plans to completely scrap the rule.
It means all knockout ties level after two legs will go to extra-time and then, if necessary, penalties.
Uefa data outlined how the disadvantage of playing away from home has decreased in recent decades.
Matches were won by the home team at a rate of 61 per cent in the mid-1970s, a figure which has dropped to 47 per cent nowadays.
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And away wins have almost doubled in regularity – from 19 per cent to 30 per cent.
Modern times have seen advances in player fitness, recovery and travel welfare to lessen the impact of trips across the continent.
Fans have also voiced concerns over the impact the rule had on entertainment value, something Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin was keen to stress at Thursday’s announcement.
He said: “The impact of the rule now runs counter to its original purpose.
“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.
“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.”
The away goals rule has contributed to a number of huge results over the years, although it is difficult to say that games would have played out exactly the same had it not been present at the time.
Andres Iniesta hit a late equaliser against Chelsea to take Barcelona to the 2009 final in a match better remembered for refereeing controversy.
Ten years later and it was Tottenham sneaking through after Lucas Moura’s hat-trick in Amsterdam overturned Ajax’s semi-final lead.
Spurs had also relied on away goals to edge Manchester City in the previous round, going through 4-4 on aggregate thanks to a Fernando Llorente strike in a mad 4-3 defeat at the Etihad.
Roma bounced back from a 4-1 first-leg quarter-final defeat to Barcelona in 2018, progressing thanks to Kostas Manolas’ late header that sealed a 3-0 Stadio Olimpico triumph.
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