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Champions League quarter-finals: Away goal rule and what happens if there’s a tie?

We take a look at how Champions League knockout ties are settled if the two teams can’t be separated after 90 minutes.

Real Madrid and Chelsea players pose for a photograph prior the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Chelsea FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on April 12, 2023. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

The away goals rule in the Champions League has been scrapped and teams in Europe are now approaching their two-legged knockout matches with different strategies.

The rule had been in place since 1965, but it changed at the beginning of the 2021/22 season. If teams are level on aggregate goals after 180 minutes (two legs), matches go into 30 minutes of extra time.

If the sides can’t be separated after 120 minutes of play in the second leg of their Champions League knockout match, a penalty shootout will determine the winner.

How does extra time in the Champions League work?

Extra time is the first tiebreaker used if the two teams can’t be separated in a Champions League knockout match. Lasting for a total of 30 minutes, it consists of two 15-minute halves and is played in its entirety, regardless of if there are any changes to the scoreline. If a team is winning at the end of extra time, they win the game.

Extra time: the basics

  • Extra time lasts for 30 minutes
  • Two halves of 15 minutes each
  • Team in the lead at the end of extra time wins

If the teams are still level after extra time, the match goes to a penalty shootout.

How does a penalty shootout work?

In a shootout, both teams get five penalties each, with kicks taken alternately by each side. The team that scores the most penalties wins. If one side establishes an unassailable lead before one or both of the teams has taken all of its five penalties, the shootout ends. If the sides remain level after five penalties each, they take additional rounds of single sudden-death spot-kicks until one scores and the other misses.

Penalties: the basics

  • Both teams take five penalties each
  • Spot-kicks taken alternately by each side
  • Team that scores more penalties wins
  • Shootout ends early if a team takes unassailable lead
  • Sudden-death kicks if sides level after five penalties

Ceferin: Rule ran “counter to its original purpose”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin previously pointed out how the away goals tiebreaker ran “counter to its original purpose”, adding that it discouraged teams from playing attacking football.

“It dissuades home teams — especially in first legs — from attacking, because they fear conceding a goal that would give their opponents a crucial advantage,” Ceferin said.

“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.”

Champions League 2022/23 quarter-final second-leg ties: schedule in full (all times ET)

  • 18 April: Chelsea vs Real Madrid, Stamford Bridge, 3pm
  • 18 April: Napoli vs AC Milan, Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, 3pm
  • 19 April: Bayern Munich vs Manchester City, Allianz Arena, 3pm
  • 19 April: Inter vs Benfica, San Siro, 3pm