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The Agony Of Losing On The Away Goals Rule

 The Agony Of Losing On The Away Goals Rule

I’ve never been a big fan of the away goals rule because it seems like an odd rule that exists only as a cruel and unusual punishment to knock a losing team out of a cup tournament. But the match between Manchester United and Bayern Munich was a perfect example of how well it can work and how it adds an important subtext to a game that is already filled with numerous plot lines.

When Manchester United was leading 3-1 against Bayern Munich, the team was cruising. A fourth goal seemed inevitable but there was also the fear that if Bayern could unseemingly get a second goal, then the match would sway in the German’s favor.

And that’s exactly what happened. Arjen Robben scored an absolutely inch-perfect goal through the tightest of spaces to make the scoreline 3-2 to Manchester United. With the game tied on aggregate but Bayern Munich having the advantage because of scoring more away goals, the pressure was then on United to score a goal with 10 minutes to go. Alas it didn’t come, and Robben’s goal ended up sending Manchester United crashing out of the Champions League. And, at the same time, to send the final Premier League team out of the tournament.

Who said away goals isn’t exciting?

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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45 Responses to The Agony Of Losing On The Away Goals Rule

  1. Smitty says:

    Certainly not Chelsea supporters from last year who crashed out of the Champions League to Barcelona last year on away goals (nil-nil at the Nou Camp followed by 1-1 at Stamford Bridge). Plenty of excitement…. Also plenty of pain and frustration on losing that way. That game is still probably the most heart broken I’ve been!

    • Allen says:

      In short, yes.

      That game was utterly agonizing. A tiny part of my aorta vanish’d into the blackness of the void of life. I felt my world crumble. All because of Away Goals.

      Alas, the game of football is cruel, unusual, and often masochistic (especially if you’re a Celtic fan).

      As for Rafael’s naïveté, that was the moment in which the game really changed. Shame that there aren’t any more EPL teams in the CL, but hey, like I said, it’s football.

    • CTBlues says:

      Ya, last year was bad but Terry slipping while taking his penalty versus ManU was way more heart breaking for me.

  2. The Gaffer says:

    Smitty, the Chelsea game was quite negative, but it was exciting especially that last gasp goal by Barcelona. I’m not a Manchester United supporter, but I’m feeling a bit down tonight after seeing them lose. If Wayne Rooney hadn’t got hurt and if Rafael da Silva hadn’t been so stupid, United would have won it, I’m certain.

    Fair play to Bayern Munich, though. They played well and showed flashes of brilliance.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

  3. lol says:

    away goals is important so teams dont play like italy and go def whore. you can argue either way but bayern is the better team and robben is out of the stratosphere.

    • Devils Advocate says:

      Bayern were not the better team on the night but they were able to adapt to the sending off of Rafael more effectively. United should have been able to “lock down”, even with 10 men. They made 1 mistake which allowed Robben to take his goal well

  4. Aussie Ian says:

    Theres no way i am complaining at Rafael being sent off, but what i think
    stinks is the Bayern Munich player taking Valencias legs out in a deliberate
    and dangerous tackle that did deserve a booking,
    if this is what you call sour grapes, then yes i am guilty %100

  5. Matthew N says:

    Also known as the Agony of Losing Because We Didn’t Score One More

  6. Gious says:

    You gloryhunting Yanks sure do have an annoying way of complaining

    • The Gaffer says:

      Gious, enough with the immature jibes. Not all of the readers or posters on this site are American. And those who are are not all gloryhunting soccer fans. There are plenty of Americans who support clubs such as Portsmouth, Fulham, Everton, Hull City and other clubs. Don’t stereotype Americans, alright?

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Bruce Gottesman says:

        I’m American, and I’ve been following my favorite club in the Championship all year. Lots of radio-only action — won’t have to worry about that again next year :)

    • ovalball says:

      Are you lost? Your comment makes absolutely no sense given the context of the nine before it.

  7. maw4bc says:

    Van Bommel should have been sent off in the first half for a second bookable offense. He american football tackled a man u player with his forearm. Yet Rafael gets sent off. Completely changed the match.

  8. David the Yank says:

    Wow! I could not disagree more with anything, Gaffer, that you have ever written. Plain and simple, the genius, and I do mean genius, who invented the away goals rule, deserves a trophy and a place in the soccer hall of fame (Seriously!) as I constantly tell my friends, there is simply NOTHING in all of sport as glorious as a two-leg tie using the away goals rule. BOTH teams *HAVE* to go for it. The Fiorentina-Bayern amazing match in the wind and tonight’s simply extraordinary ManU-Bayern match are perfect reasons why it was simply the greatest rule invention in the history of sport. Before this rule, and we still see this all-too-often in the World Cup or in Cup Finals, one team decides to hold back, defend, deploy negative tactics, and you just can’t do that in Champions League with away goals. United had to score last week in Munich, and they did early. That meant Bayern had to score a couple to head to United with the chance to get a draw and advance! And they did. Tonight, it was just too risky for Bayern to sit back and play for nil-nil but neither could United sit on a 2-nil lead, knowing that giving up a single goal would send the tie to extra time and maybe penalties. So they kept attacking! And that meant Rafael got caught up field, and Carrick couldn’t defend the Croat and it was 3-1 at halftime, so Bayern still just a goal away. One team is always pushing forward and the swings can be dramatic (Chelsea v Barca last year!!).

    I now wish the champions league final could revert to home-and-away with away goals!

  9. Gaffer, a painful, yet great, choice of picture. That Robben celebration has to go down as one of the all-time worst.
    The away-goals rule, I respect it but I resent it all the same.

  10. The away goals rule defies logic and is the worst thing perpetrated on the sporting public.

    It is against the spirit of the game — and really the simple laws of the game that dictate one goal scored equals one goal scored, no exceptions — to go from a losing position to a winning position by scoring one goal. But this is what happens with the asinine away goals rule. Just like with Robben’s wondergoal, last year with one minute left on the clock and Barcelona losing the tie against Chelsea, Andres Iniesta sends them from losing their semifinal match to winning with one strike of the ball. In essence, he scored two goals with one kick of the ball, which is a notion that should not sit well with any fan of this beautiful game.

    http://pitchmen.fantake.com/2010/03/09/the-games-great-debate-the-away-goals-rule/

    • brn442 says:

      You woke me up this nonsense? The spirit of the game my arse. So would you have rathered two boring 1-nil matches settled by a penalty shoot-out?

      Bayen sored 2 away goals Manchester 1, enough said.

    • Andrei says:

      Away goal rule helps to mitigate advantage of playing second leg at home. Otherwise when it comes to extra time or penalties it is unfair for the visiting team.

  11. The Ultimate ABU (Anyone But United) says:

    My only response to Manyoo crashing out to Munich earlier today is…

    AHEM…

    (clearing throat)

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Stuff it.

  12. Marc says:

    Hey Gious, remember your history. If it wasn’t for us “Yanks” you would be speaking German and probably be a Bayern supporter now. Please don’t call me a Yank. I support the Mets. If you know anythng about American sports you will know by that statement that I am no “gloryhunter.”
    LUHG

    • Gaz says:

      You’re not going to win any support by taking the “we saved your ass in World War II” stance. It epitomizes the stereotype of a “Yank”.

      Just remind them that there are “glory hunters” everywhere – even in the UK. In the same way, there are some that have supported our team for years in the US.

      • ovalball says:

        “….remember your history. If it wasn’t for us “Yanks” you would be speaking German and probably be a Bayern supporter now.”

        What inane garbage, Marc. I suggest you look up “Battle of Britain” and do some reading yourself. Our British friends were holding their own while we twiddled our thumbs, not wanting to get “involved”. We had to be forced off our butts by the Japanese. Did we help win WW II? Yes…..along with all the Allies.

        Happy to be called a Yank……..

        • Marc says:

          ovalball, don’t believe everything you learned in school about the so called Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor. That Yank referance was more of a baseball referance showing that I am not a glory hunter when it comes to who I support.

  13. Josh says:

    A bit off topic, but if it weren’t for away goals, we wouldn’t have Fergie spouting such quotable gold like “typical Germans”

  14. tony says:

    what about a home goals rule. man utd scored 3. bayern only two. think about it.

  15. [187] says:

    I always wonder when the whole “we saved your asses” will run out. It’s a tired last attempt to gain a superiority that isn’t actually there. Though it may be appropriate in response to a similar sense of superiority from the comment about “yanks” somehow detracting from soccer. Way to support isolationism.

    ANYWHO, I was very disappointed to read Sir Alex’s response on the BBC today, referring to Bayern as “typical Germans.” Quote from BBC:

    “Ferguson said: ‘The young boy showed a bit of inexperience but they got him sent off, everyone sprinted towards the referee – typical Germans.’ ”

    As I understand it, you can’t show inexperience in the Champions League. The CL is the epitome of top level football, so to show “a bit of inexperience” and get a second yellow seems par for the course for me. I have to admit, I have not seen the game, only saw the final results online. Also, I have not seem many Bundesliga games, so I can’t affirm or deny that Bayern were “typical Germans.” However, I trust the lot here, and not one of these comments, or the story, have complained because of an unfair red card.

    I’m disappointed in Sir Alex for not owning up to a defeat and instead blaming everybody but Rafael. Beckenbaur admitted that Rafael’s sending off was a turning point in the game (along with Rooney’s injury), as have most people here and Sir Alex himself, so I trust that it was. Sir Alex: “[Rafael's] inexperienced and sometimes, like that, the inexperience can show itself.”

    I think instead of blaming the referee and “typical Germans” Sir Alex should maybe look at his younger, inexperienced Rafael.

    • David the Yank says:

      I am just getting so tired of his act (Ferguson). Refs are to blame every time they don’t win. Look, how about admitting he had a very difficult decision. He deemed O’Shea not fit to play 90 minutes, Neville was the worst player on the pitch Saturday by a long shot, was destroyed by Malouda, took a stonewall penalty, (not called!), and would have been killed by Ribery. So the remaining option was a 19-year old. And the 19-year old played great, utterly and totally neutralizing Ribery. But he is impetuous and inexperienced, and Ferguson paid the price. The first half yellow was simply moronic, off the play, when Rafael was 90 yards down the pitch! Then, on a yellow, he grabbed Ribery’s shoulder *AND HE HAD COVER*. It was just meaningless and moronic. Why the Italian ref *appeared* to hesitate, I don’t know. I think he was always going to give the yellow, but I don’t mind refs taking a second to think in that situation because it does change the complexion of the game and they should be sure. As the “Germans” surrounded the ref, he kept nodding his head, like, look, i’ve made a decision, get out of my face, give me a sec to think and to get the card out. There was no complaint from Rafael, as they were two blatant yellow card offenses, both utterly unnecessary for his team. I am sure he cried a lot last night and has now learned. He will probably be a great right back going forward.

      But back to Ferguson. Was Mike Dean good on Saturday? no, he has had two awful games on the hop, and has been sent down to the Championship this week to wake up. But as bad as he was in missing with his linesman Drogba’s offside, he was equally bad in missing the neville stonewall aforementioned penalty. Macheda’s belly goal? I’m 50-50 on that. There is no way you could say it was deliberate hand ball, and having seen 7 angles, I’m not sure it hit his arm even inadvertantly. Yet, had it been whistled, I don’t think United could have complained.

  16. James mcdermott says:

    Fergie’s “typical germans” statement is somewhat ludicrous given that the players that surrounded the referee were mostly non-germans, Ribery, Van Bommel, Ilic. I guess if the same thing happened with say a PL team then would he have said “typical English”?

  17. Zola612 says:

    I just posted this in the “A Little Perspective for Manchester United Supporters” thread but since the “typical Germans” topic is active here I thought I’d say it again.

    So a Brazilian gets issued a yellow card from an Italian for fouling a Dutchman and then another yellow card from the same Italian for fouling a Frenchman. A Dutchman, a Frenchman, a German and a Croat express their frustration to the Italian about the Brazilian’s persistent fouling. Then a Scot complains about them being “typical Germans.”

    My head hurts.

    Fergie may have forgotten more about football than I’ll ever learn, but he still needs to learn a thing or two. Statements like “typical Germans” perpetuate Xenophobia and Jingoism. My guess is that he does it to divert attention away from his players and that is his only intent. But he ought to recognize that his station in life means that he has influence on things beyond his own club. It’d be nice if a football man could occasionally look beyond the pitch.

  18. ABU's are Suckas says:

    why do you ABU’s come out in full force when we lose? biggest pussies ever only to kick us when we’re down. are you not confident enough in your own clubs to talk shit when we’re winning? how many of you made it to the champions league quaters? how many of you will be playing in europe next year? and i don’t mean that europa loser league. how many of you are currently even in the top half of the league table? not many i’d guess. go fuck a goat you plastic scouse bitter blues fuck holes.

    • The Ultimate ABU (Anyone But United) says:

      F*ck off you little c*nt.

      It’s GREAT when Manyoo lose because it’s nice to see when your corrupt joke of a football club can’t do ANYTHING about it. Yesterday, when Robben scored that wonderful goal, MILLIONS of people around the world jumped for joy watching your sh*thole side blow a three nil lead and exit the champions league in humourous fashion!

      So, here’s to Manyoo losing out on the league, Rio getting banned for a coke habit, Rooney (shrek) shagging grannies, slur Alex Ferguson hitting the bottle and being forced to retire, the Glazers create a black hole financially, Manyoo found out for being a corrupt organization (due to constant help from the FA) and getting relegated.

      OH and to top it all off, Liverpool are STILL the most successful club in England. Suck on that you Manc tw*t.

  19. ABU's are Suckas says:

    Robben looks like a pedophile in that photo

    • The Ultimate ABU (Anyone But United) says:

      How would you know, have you been molested by one?

      Serves you Mancs right for being such arrogant arseholes. Keep that Carling Cup, also known as the Mickey Mouse Cup, because it is hilarious knowing that will be the ONLY trophy you will win. Of course it is fitting that you win such a poor trophy, because you did name it name it the Mickey Mouse Cup.

  20. Barry says:

    +1 for Patrick Dresslar. I said almost the exact same thing last year after the Chelsea game. The great thing about football is that one goal = one goal. None of this points bullsh1t like in other sports. Unfortunately, the away goals rule kills this concept by in some cases making a goal count as double. IF the away goals rule was so much a part of football and not a random invention by someone from UEFA or FIFA, then why isn’t it also implemented in leagues? If Hull draw 2-2 at Stamford Bridge, maybe they should be awarded the win? Of course, I would never want this to happen but it stays consistent with the away goals rule.

  21. The Ultimate ABU (Anyone But United) says:

    Oh an internet toughguy, how funny!

    What’s more hilarious is that you are probably in Surrey, not Manchester as we all know that Manchester doesn’t have Manyoo supporters…cause they are all in London or Asia.

    Now, quit being a prat and find something productive in time, like trying to dig for items in trash bins (because we know Mancs love doing that).

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