On Soccer: Against Barcelona, Arsenal Gives Up 2 Goals and Possibly All Hope


Barcelona’s Lionel Messi scored two goals against Arsenal on Tuesday. “Barcelona is through, 95 percent certainly,” Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger said.

Toby Melville/Reuters

LONDON — More than 50 years ago, European soccer’s governing body instituted a quirky regulation designed to break ties in the two-game, home-and-home aggregate series that are so common in soccer. The away-goals rule, as it has become known, is, on the surface, quite simple: If two teams score the same number of goals over two games, the team that scores more away from home advances.

And yet the function of the rule is a bit trickier. While sometimes the away-goals rule just seems weird — in 2003, for example, A.C. Milan and Inter Milan, which share a stadium, had their Champions League semifinal decided by away goals despite the fact both games were played at the San Siro — the more common debate is whether it is fair, particularly in an era where the rigors of…

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