A significant change to European club tournaments was announced by UEFA on Thursday 24th June: the abolition of the away goals rule.
In place for decades, the rule determined that if a two-legged European tie finished level on aggregate, the side who scored the most goals in their leg away from home would advance to the next round.
Now, if a tie is still even after 180 minutes, an additional period of half an hour of extra time will be played – just as it already has been if each team has scored the same number of away goals.
Roma will see the new rules in action during their involvement in the Europa Conference League in 2021-22, although they will be hoping to win their ties in that competition without having to go all the way to extra time.
There have been some memorable moments in Roma games thanks to the away goals rule down the years. It has affected the club in Europe six times – four to their benefit and two to their detriment.
Here are the stories of all those ties.
Vs Partizan (1988)
The away goals rule was introduced in the 1960s, but it didn’t affect Roma in Europe until the 1988-89 season.
After progressing past FC Nurnberg in the first round of the UEFA Cup, the next challenge for Nils Liedholm’s side was the second round against Yugoslavian side Partizan, based in modern day Serbia.
The trip to Belgrade for the first leg ended as a 4-2 defeat for Roma, despite Bruno Conti giving them the lead. The hosts eventually went 3-1 up before Conti pulled another back, only for the opponents to earn back their two-goal advantage.
But the return leg was much more comfortable for Roma, who won 2-0 thanks to goals from Rudi Voller and Giuseppe Giannini. Thanks to Conti’s brace in Belgrade a fortnight earlier, the Giallorossi advanced on away goals.
Vs CSKA Moscow (1991)
After winning the Coppa Italia in 1991, Roma qualified for the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Their first opponent along the way was CSKA Moscow, then representing the USSR before it became Russia.
Roma were away for the first leg, earning a 2-1 win in Moscow. All the goals came after half-time, with Ottavio Bianchi’s men taking the lead through an own goal before the hosts equalised, only for Ruggiero Rizzitelli to regain the lead for his side.
The win was enough for Roma to progress, even though CSKA Moscow won the reverse fixture 1-0 in Rome two weeks later.
Vs Slavia Prague (1995)
It had been so far, so good for Roma with the away goals rule. But their first taste of defeat via the method in Europe came in the 1995-96 UEFA Cup.
Roma were unable to score in the away leg of their quarter-final with Slavia Prague, losing 2-0. However, they managed to take things to extra time when the two sides reconvened in the Italian capital; goals from Francesco Moriero and Giannini mirrored the scoreline after 90 minutes.
Agonisingly, the away goals rule still counted in extra time, despite it essentially giving Slavia Prague more time to get one than Roma had. Still, the Lupi took the lead again when Moriero scored his second of the night, only for the Czech side to equalise with seven minutes remaining.
It was the away goal that swung the balance in Slavia Prague’s favour, and they saw out the tie to reach the next round.
Vs Middlesbrough (2006)
One of the very few Roma games to be held on Yorkshire soil, Roma suffered a 1-0 defeat upon their visit to Middlesbrough for the Round of 16 of the 2005-06 UEFA Cup. A Yakubu penalty was all that separated the two sides.
Roma won 2-1 in the return leg, with Mancini scoring a brace, but Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s goal for Boro gave the English side the away goals win.
Middlesbrough ended up going all the way to the final, where they lost to Sevilla.
Vs Shakhtar Donetsk (2018)
Roma’s most memorable European campaign of the Champions League era saw them win their group above Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Qarabag, before facing Shakhtar Donetsk for the Round of 16.
The first leg took place in Ukraine, where Roma lost 2-1 despite taking the lead through Cengiz Under. The winger’s goal would prove decisive, though, just three weeks later.
A solitary Edin Dzeko goal gave Roma a 1-0 win at Stadio Olimpico, meaning they set up a famous quarter-final thanks to their away goal.
Vs Barcelona (2018)Embed from Getty Images
Thus, the last European Roma game to be decided on away goals will always be the most famous. Few people gave Eusebio Di Francesco’s side any hope of beating Barcelona, especially when they went 3-0 down in the first leg away at Camp Nou.
Dzeko pulled one back late on to give his side a glimmer of hope, but it still seemed unlikely when Barca restored their three-goal advantage with minutes remaining.
What happened six days later was unforgettable. Dzeko scored again to set Roma on their way to a memorable victory, with Daniele De Rossi scoring a penalty in the second half to leave the Giallorossi one goal away from the semi-finals.
That goal then came in the most breathtaking of circumstances, when Kostas Manolas headed in Under’s corner with eight minutes to spare. It prompted wild scenes of celebration in the stadium and a memorable piece of commentary for those watching on TV.
Thanks to Dzeko’s away goal in the first leg and their dominant performance in the second leg, Roma disposed of one of Europe’s strongest teams.
As of the 2021-22 season, they would have had to navigate an extra half an hour after that. But with the way they played that night, Roma likely would still have been unstoppable; they could have played for many more hours and still gone on to win.
It would have been too much for the nerves, though, so thankfully the away goals rule meant the 3-0 win was enough for one of Roma’s most significant ever achievements.