Just in case you weren’t aware, football at the elite level is bloody difficult and it doesn’t get much tougher than the UEFA Champions League.
This competition is the apex of club football, where the best-of-the-best collide in a bid to further enhance their legacies in the sport.
Scoring goals in the Champions League is not easy. Sure, the level of defending in the modern day may occasionally cause Franco Baresi to shed a tear or two, but those tasked with shutting out the folk that seek to entertain are far from incompetent.
Nevertheless, despite the best efforts of defenders and opposing managers, there are some that fall under the ‘impossible to stop’ bracket. The bright lights of the Champions League bring the best out in them, and they enjoy performances that leave us in a state of awe.
No, we’re not talking about those that merely scored three times in a single continental outing. In fact, not even four strikes are sufficient. We want five.
Only three players in Champions League history have scored five goals in one game. Here they are.
Barcelona 7-1 Bayer Leverkusen – Last 16 second leg – 08/03/2012
Barcelona’s 2011/12 campaign would culminate with Fernando Torres rounding Victor Valdes and a Gary Neville squeal, but their lead protagonist would embark on yet another magical continental journey which peaked in the first knockout round.
Lionel Messi put the finishing touches on Barça’s 3-1 triumph over Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their round of 16 tie before he became the first player in Champions League history to score five goals in a single game as the German outfit visited Camp Nou.
Two of his five strikes were subtle dinks over Bernd Leno, the second of which was with his ‘weaker’ right foot. Two finishes were emphatic from inside the box, and he capitalised on some poor goalkeeping to tap home his fourth goal of the night.
BATE Borisov 0-7 Shakhtar Donetsk – Group stage – 21/10/2014
Luiz Adriano must be public enemy number one in Borisov after he scored eight times in two meetings against BATE during the 2014/15 group stage.
The Brazilian’s quintet of strikes in Belarus were hardly memorable (two penalties and three tap-ins) but he joined Messi in the five-goal club nonetheless. Two weeks later he bagged another hat trick – just the three goals this time – as Shakhtar inflicted more misery upon their Belarusian opponents.
Those emphatic victories over BATE helped the Ukrainian side into the round of 16 where they got a taste of medicine in the second leg against Bayern Munich. Shakhtar were thumped 7-0 by the Bavarian giants at the Allianz Arena.
Manchester City 7-0 RB Leipzig – Last 16 second leg – 14/03/2023
Erling Haaland’s goalscoring fetish has been made clear by the monstrous Norwegian himself throughout his senior career, and he’s produced at an unerring rate during his first season at Man City.
Haaland is poised to break the single-season Premier League scoring record come the end of the campaign, but it’s in the Champions League where his exploits in front of goal have astounded the most.
City’s round of 16 tie with RB Leipzig was in the balance before Haaland decided to have a bit of fun. He completed his poacher’s hat trick on the stroke of half-time before adding another two before the hour.
Julia Roberts admirer Pep Guardiola then opted to call the police and close the house party down by bringing the striker off before Haaland could smash any single Champions League game scoring record that’s ever existed.
Still, the 22-year-old became the youngest player to reach 30 UCL goals on Tuesday night and he’s now scored more goals in the competition than the likes of Wayne Rooney, Antoine Griezmann, Samuel Eto’o and Kaká.
Legendary Dutch striker Marco van Basten scored four times in a single outing during the Champions League’s inaugural season. The AC Milan forward became the first of 15 players to score a quadruple in the competition. As we know, three more scored five.
Andriy Shevchenko was the first to notch the milestone away from home in 2005 against Fenerbahce, while Messi and Robert Lewandowski are the only two players to score four or more goals in a single game twice.
The latter achieved the feat for two different clubs, and his first quadruple against Real Madrid is recognised as one of the greatest individual performances in Champions League history.