Following the news yesterday UEFA have decided to scrap the away goals rule for their competitions, we revisit the occasions Chelsea have advanced to the next round when the aggregate score was level but the Blues were more efficient away from home.
UEFA decided to end the rule, which had been in place since 1965, with a nod to the factors that have caused a decline in home advantage over the years, including ‘better pitch quality and standardised pitch sizes, improved stadium infrastructure, higher security conditions, enhanced care of refereeing, more comfortable travel conditions, a compressed calendar dictating squad turnover, and changes in competition formats’.
Despite the rule’s clear impact on two-legged ties over the years, there have only been five occasions in our history when away goals have decided the outcome. Three (Atvidaberg 1971/72, Barcelona 2008/09 and PSG 2014/15) ended in defeat, but two were in our favour…
1994/95 – Austria Vienna
The first such success came during the 1994/95 Cup Winners’ Cup campaign which served as an early marker for our Nineties renaissance under Glenn Hoddle.
We were held to a goalless draw by a sturdy defensive performance from the visitors at Stamford Bridge, despite Austria Vienna being reduced to 10 men, meaning we had plenty of work to do when we visited the Austrian capital.
However, with the home side pushing hard for the opening goal before half-time, John Spencer scored a goal which lives long in the memory of every Chelsea fan who travelled to Austria that season.
A kind ricochet from a blocked shot following a Vienna corner left Spencer bizarrely clear of the last defender, but only around 10 yards outside of his own penalty area.
The diminutive forward proceeded to sprint headlong up the majority of the Ernst Happel Stadium pitch with the ball, pursued frantically by seemingly the entire opposition team, before showing incredible composure despite what must have been aching legs to put the goalkeeper on the floor with a dummy and lift the ball into the net.
‘My goal in Vienna was probably down to bad defending,’ Spencer later recalled.
‘It was poor play from their sweeper, he stepped up to play a short corner and the shot got deflected and the rest is history. I had an 80-yard run uncontested and I went round the keeper and put it into the empty net.
‘Eddie Newton did well keeping up with me. If you look at the video (which can be watched above) you can see me looking to my left-hand side and seeing it was him and I thought I better take the goalkeeper on instead,’ he laughed, ‘because you never knew what you were going to get with Eddie’s finishing!’
Austria Vienna pulled one back with a powerful half-volley in the second half, but couldn’t find another, meaning Spencer’s lung-busting away goal sent us through, teeing up an emphatic win over Club Brugge before the heartbreaking 4-3 aggregate defeat to Real Zaragoza in the last four.
2013/14 – PSG
Chelsea were well beaten in Paris in the first leg of our Champions League quarter-final tie in 2013/14, with Javier Pastore’s 93rd-minute goal condemning us to a 3-1 defeat at the Parc des Princes.
Andre Schurrle pulled one back on the half-hour with a well-taken finish and the same man thwacked the crossbar after the break as we sought that crucial second goal.
Oscar was also denied by the woodwork, and at the other end Edinson Cavani missed a good opportunity, not for the first time against us in European competition.
It proved costly as Demba Ba came off the bench to produce the late heroics. Two minutes remained when Cesar Azpilicueta’s shot was deflected towards the six-yard box, where the Senegal striker was on hand to turn the ball in and send us to through to the semi-finals on away goals.
Eden Hazard’s first-leg penalty had proved the difference, marking our second and last away goals triumph.