Erling Haaland continued his extraordinary record in the UEFA Champions League this week, as the Manchester City striker scored twice in his side’s 3-0 win over Young Boys at the Etihad.
Haaland has broken several goalscoring records since announcing his arrival in the competition with a debut hat-trick for Red Bull Salzburg in 2019. Since then, the Norwegian has broken into the all-time top 20 for goals in the European Cup/Champions League and has twice finished as the competition’s leading scorer.
Haaland will have his sights on the all-time goal record, currently held by Cristiano Ronaldo, but how does he compare in terms of goals-per-game among Europe’s elite? Here are the five players with the best goal-per-game ratio in the Champions League era (top 50 goalscorers).
The players with the best goal-per-game ratio in the Champions League era:
5. Cristiano Ronaldo (0.77)
Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League’s record goalscorer, though his 0.77 goal-per-game ratio ranks the Portuguese superstar only fifth on this list. Incredibly, Ronaldo failed to score in his first 30 (27 excluding qualifiers) appearances in the Champions League, before opening his account with a brace in Manchester United’s 7-1 win over Roma in 2007.
Ronaldo has finished as the Champions League’s leading scorer a record seven times, the first of which came as Manchester United were crowned European champions in 2007/08. A world-record move to Real Madrid following a year later, where Ronaldo became the Spanish side’s leading scorer with 450 goals in just 434 games for the club.
CR7 👌#UCL pic.twitter.com/xvCNMzXt7W
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 2, 2023
That return helped Real Madrid to four Champions League wins, with Ronaldo scoring in the final wins in 2014 and 2017. He holds the record for the most goals in a UCL season, after netting 17 times on route to Real Madrid’s ‘La Decima’ success in 2013/14.
Ronaldo’s record stands at 140 goals in 183 Champions League games, while he is also international football’s record scorer with 127 goals in 203 appearances for Portugal.
4. Ruud van Nistelrooy (0.77)
Ruud van Nistelrooy shares Ronaldo’s goal-per-game ratio, having been the Champions League’s most reliable goalscorer during the early noughties.
Van Nistelrooy scored 56 goals in 73 appearances in the Champions League, scoring goals for PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United and Real Madrid in the competition.
🇳🇱 Ruud van Nistelrooy = great goalscorer (56 goals in 73 games)…
⚽️ @realmadriden #UCL | @RvN1776 pic.twitter.com/ESwmEvMse8
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 3, 2020
Van Nistelrooy’s five-season spell in the Premier League was the peak of his career, as the Dutchman fired 150 goals in 215 games for Manchester United. That period saw Van Nistelrooy finish as the Champions League’s leading scorer three times in four seasons, though he never managed to win the trophy as the Red Devils fell short in the latter stages.
3. Lionel Messi (0.79)
Lionel Messi sits third on this list having averaged 0.79 goals per game in the Champions League.
Messi’s overall haul of 129 goals sits him second in the leading scorers list, behind Ronaldo, but the Argentine betters Ronaldo’s goal-per-game ratio in Europe’s elite. Messi is a four-time winner of the Champions League from a record-breaking career at Barcelona, with the forward scoring in the club’s memorable final wins over Manchester United in 2009 and 2011.
He is one of just three players – alongside Luiz Adriano and Erling Haaland – to score five goals in a Champions League game, and has scored in a record-breaking 18 UCL seasons, a milestone shared with Karim Benzema.
No player has scored against more different opponents (40) than Messi, in the Champions League.
2. Robert Lewandowski (0.81)
Robert Lewandowski has scored prolifically on club football’s biggest stage across the past decade, with the Poland international scoring 92 goals in the Champions League.
Lewandowski made his name at Borussia Dortmund, where a stunning four-goal performance against Real Madrid in the 2012/13 semi-finals made the world sit up and take notice. The forward signed for Bayern Munich on a free transfer in 2014 and went on to break records with the Bavarians, scoring 344 goals in 375 games for the club.
Lewandowski inspired Bayern Munich to Champions League success in 2019/20, scoring 15 goals across nine consecutive games to lead Hansi Flick’s side to the final. Kingsley Coman’s goal earned Bayern a 1-0 win over PSG in the final and completed treble success for the side.
Lewandowski became just the second player ever to win a European treble while being the top scorer in all three competitions, after Johan Cruyff for Ajax in 1971/72, having also led the DFB-Pokal and Bundesliga for goals.
Iconic Performances: Lewandowski’s four-goal destruction of Real Madrid
1. Erling Haaland (1.15)
Erling Haaland’s brace this week took the Norwegian to an astounding 39 goals in 34 Champions League goals, with the Norwegian averaging better than a goal-per-game in the competition.
The Champions League is the pinnacle of club football, but Haaland has made scoring goals in the competition look effortlessly easy. After hitting a hat-trick on his competition debut at Salzburg, to winning the top scorer award at Borussia Dortmund, Haaland has been Europe’s most menacing threat in recent seasons.
✅ Top 20 all-time Champions League goalscorer
✅ 13 multi-goal Champions League games
Erling Haaland’s still only 23 😲👏 pic.twitter.com/WZAdleaiiu
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) November 7, 2023
Last season, he scored 12 goals in 11 games to win the top scorer award for a second time, as Manchester city ended their wait for European success. Haaland has four goals in four games this season and with the 23-year-old in their ranks, City are strong favourites to defend their Champions League crown.
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Read Also – Iconic Performances: Messi’s four-goal demolition of Arsenal
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