Has the Champions League final ever been decided in overtime or penalty kicks?
During the 68 years of the tournament, there have been several occasions when the final ended level after 90 minutes.
Manchester City and Inter Milan bring the 2022/23 season to a close this evening by contesting the biggest prize in club football. One of the two teams will be crowned champions of Europe at Isanbul’s Atatürk stadium - City are gunning for their first title while Inter aspire to draw up level in the rankings with Ajax by lifting the trophy for the fourth time.
Since Real Madrid and Stade Reims contested the first final in June 1956, under the competition’s original title, the European Champion Clubs’ Cup, there have been a number of occasions when both teams have been level in the scoreboard on full-time. During the European Cup era, nine finals had both teams tied on 90 minutes. Overall, including the Champions League era, a total of 17 finals had to be settled after the full 90 minutes of regulation time had been played.
For one reason or another, they weren’t all decided in the same way. Five were resolved with a winner in extra-time, 11 in a penalty shootout after extra-time and one in a replay. There have been no finals decided by a golden goal during the 68 years of the tournament.
The 1957/58 edition of the European Cup between Real Madrid and AC Milan at Heysel was the first to end with no winner after 90 minutes. The game was locked in stalemate until a frenetic final half hour produced four goals. Di Stéfano cancelled out Juan Schiaffino’s opener but the Italians were back in front within three minutes when Ernesto Grillo beat Juanito Alonso with a fierce effort from the edge of the box. Just two minutes after that, Rial made it 2-2 and that’s how the scoreboard read on full-time. It was settled in extra-time, Paco Gento catching Milan keeper Narciso Soldan offguard to hand Madrid the title for the third year running.
Replays, penalty shootout introduced
The 1973/74 edition was another landmark in the tournament’s history. Until then, practically every final had a clear winner on 90 minutes and those that didn’t had been resolved in extra-time. No final had been as close as the one between Bayern Munich and Atlético Madrid. Without goals on the whistle, the game went to extra-time when the real drama ensued.
Luis Aragonés fired the Spanish side ahead from a free-kick in the last minute of the first period but Atleti’s dreams of lifting the trophy were dashed in the cruelest fashion when Katsche Schwarzenbeck let rip from 35 yards out to level it up with the final kick of the match.
There was no protocol in place for deciding a final after 120 minutes and besides, all of the players from both sides were too tired so for the first and only time, a replay was scheduled two days later. Schwarzenbeck’s last gasp equaliser was a sucker punch from which Atleti couldn’t recover as they were swept aside by Bayern, losing the replay 4-0.
The problem with replays is that they interfere with the calendar and it’s not always easy to find a suitable date at a neutral venue. And what happens with the fans? FIFA had introduced penalty shootouts as a way of resolving games that were still level after extra-time in 1970 but only for qualifying ties. The first final to be decided from the spot was the 1976 European Championship with Czechoslovakia coming out on top in the shootout against West Germany (5-3).
The first penalty shootout at the Olimpico
The first European Cup/Champions League final to be decided from the penalty spot was the 1983/84 clash between Roma and Liverpool. Right-back Phil Neal poked in the opener on 13 minutes in a cagey affair but the home team were back level just before half-time through Pruzzo. That’s how it stayed after 120 minutes until the winners were determined from 12 yards. The late Michael Robinson gave a vivid account of how it all unfolded in an interview with AS in 2018.