Like most Manchester United fans there were no tears shed last night when former United striker Diego Forlan slammed the ball home for Athletico Madrid right in front of The Kop to send Liverpool crashing out of Europe. After all, those same Merseyside fans were ecstatic to see Bayern Munich go through to the Champions League semi final by eliminating United on the same away goals rule.
Having said that, both defeats highlight the fact that fans of the two clubs have finally found something they can agree upon. The mere fact that a system which rates one goal twice as valuable as another just because it was scored on foreign soil is not only wrong, it is almost laughable. Sadly, this is a rule which has been in existence for so long, it has become widely accepted without protest.
Yet we still hear complaints that the penalty shootout should be abolished and a “fairer” method to decide drawn matches be found. Can someone please explain how five players physically trying to put the ball past an opposing goalkeeper from the penalty spot is less fair than a goal which is deemed to be worth twice its value?
Manchester United were eliminated from the Champions League on this ruling only recently so this opinion may sound like sour grapes but in all truth, it is one which has been held for many years including occasions when United were the beneficiaries of it.
Penalty shootouts on the other hand can be bitter pills to swallow when they go against you but at least the two sides are separated by their own actions.
The world wide popularity of football has always been based on its simplicity. Get the ball over the line past the keeper on more occasions than your opponent and you win. If both sides are successful on an equal number of times the game is drawn as it always has been, apart from when home and away matches are involved.
So why complicate the issue by counting the goal that Ivica Olic scored at Old Trafford twice as valuable as the one he scored in the last few seconds in Munich? Or the one by Diego Forlan at Anfield compared to his strike in Madrid? If the scores are equal as they were on both these occasions, separate the two sides by having a penalty shootout to find a winner. Is that too simple?
As a Manchester United fan who was desperate to get past the Bayern Munich hurdle knowing that there was a better than an even chance of winning through to a third successive European Champions League final, getting eliminated on penalties would have been far easier to accept than being defeated by a 4-4 score line by which one side was never proven to be any better nor worse than the other.
Younger football fans will not remember the method of tossing a coin to decide which team went through to the next round after the home and away legs finished level back in the sixties. Was that laughable? You bet it was but at least the principle of one goal being worth just one goal irrespective of where it was scored was never prostituted.
There’s an old saying that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Well in this case, it’s a matter of a goal away is worth two at home. Is that really logical? Of course it’s not. The ultimate proof is that you will find both Liverpool and Manchester United fans agreeing that the sooner this crazy rule is done away with, the more credible football will become. Away goals counting double? Give me a break!
Are penalty shoot outs more fair than winning on away goals?