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What happens if the Champions League final ends in a draw? Extra time, penalties

Liverpool and Real Madrid both have an unblemished record in European Cup/Champions League finals that have been level after 90 minutes.

Liverpool, Real both unbeaten in UCL finals that go the distance

When Liverpool and Real Madrid face off in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final, a winner must be decided on the night. If the scores are level after 90 minutes, extra time and, if need be, a penalty shoot-out will be used to settle the clash at Paris’ Stade de France.

Champions League final tie-breaker format

Extra time will consist of two halves lasting 15 minutes each. If Liverpool and Madrid can’t be separated after the additional half hour, a best-of-five shoot-out will be held. If the sides remain level after five penalties each, they will take additional rounds of sudden-death spot-kicks until one scores and the other misses.

Also related to the Champions League final:

Extra time yes, golden/silver goals no

It’s also worth noting that the 30-minute extra-time period will be played in its entirety, regardless of any changes to the scoreline. This hasn’t always been the case. For an eight-year period between 1996 and 2004, two unsuccessful law changes meant a premature end to extra time was possible.

At the start of the 1996/97 season, the ‘golden goal’ rule was introduced in extra time in the Champions League, meaning that the team that scored first would automatically win the game. However, the law typically led to negative, defensive football, as sides understandably focused on not conceding. A golden goal never once settled a Champions League final, or indeed any tie in the competition, and the rule was replaced after the 2001/02 campaign.

Rather than returning to the previous status quo, though, UEFA opted for a watered-down version of the golden goal, known as the ‘silver goal’. Under this rule, if a team was ahead at the end of the first 15-minute half of extra time, it would win the match. “The new system will encourage positive football in the extra-time period, and produce a sensible and fairer ending to a game,” UEFA communications director Mike Lee said in 2003.

It did not take long for the governing body’s enthusiasm for the silver goal to dissipate. The rule proved even more short-lived than its predecessor, and was abolished after the 2003/04 campaign, having also never settled a Champions League final.

How many European Cup/Champions League finals have gone to extra time?

Judging by the history books, Saturday’s clash in the French capital has a roughly 25% chance of going to extra time. Of the 66 European Cup/Champions League* finals held so far since 1956, 17 have still been level at the end of the 90 minutes.

In their nine previous appearances in the final of the competition, Liverpool have twice had to play extra time - in 1984 and 2005 - and on both occasions eventually won out on penalties (more on that to come). As for Madrid, three out of their 16 finals have gone to extra time - in 1958, 2014 and (more on this to come, too) 2016. Like Liverpool, Los Blancos are yet to be defeated in the additional 30 minutes; like Liverpool, they’ve also never lost a final shoot-out.

After penalties were introduced in the European Cup in 1970/71 - Liverpool’s city rivals Everton going on to win the tournament’s first shoot-out - the Reds became the first team to be crowned continental champions on spot-kicks when they overcame Roma in the ‘84 final. With Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar performing his now-legendary ‘wobbly-legs’ routine between the sticks, the Merseysiders beat the Italians at their home stadium in Rome, Alan Kennedy slotting home the winning penalty after Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani had missed for the Giallorossi.

Twenty-one years later, Liverpool were again triumphant from the spot - against an AC Milan team coached by current Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti. Having come back from 3-0 down to take the 2005 Champions League final to extra time and then to penalties, Liverpool won the shoot-out 3-2 in Istanbul, keeper Jerzy Dudek reprising Grobbelaar’s goal-line antics as Serginho, Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko all failed from 12 yards for Milan.

Real Madrid’s only experience of a European Cup/Champions League final shoot-out came against Atlético Madrid six years ago. Following a 1-1 draw in Milan, Los Blancos beat Atlético to the trophy - their second final triumph over their near neighbours in three years - after Juanfran hit the post with his penalty (see top picture). Cristiano Ronaldo netted the winning kick for Los Blancos, who scored all five of their penalties.

Penalties have not been needed to decide the European champions since then. In all, 11 European Cup/Champions League finals - one in six - have been settled from the spot.

European Cup/Champions League finals that have gone to extra time/penalties: full list

YearWinnersLosersScore aetShoot-out score
1958Real MadridAC Milan3-2n/a
1968Manchester UnitedBenfica4-1n/a
1974Bayern MunichAtlético Madrid1-1n/a (Bayern won replay 4-0)
1986Steaua BucharestBarcelona0-02-0
1988PSV EindhovenBenfica0-06-5
1991Red Star BelgradeMarseille0-05-3
2001Bayern MunichValencia1-15-4
2003AC MilanJuventus0-03-2
2005LiverpoolAC Milan3-33-2
2008Manchester UnitedChelsea1-16-5
2012ChelseaBayern Munich1-14-3
2014Real MadridAtlético Madrid4-1n/a
2016Real MadridAtlético Madrid1-15-3

*Please note that the competition was referred to as the European Cup between 1955 and 1992, before being rebranded as the Champions League.


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