Champions League holders Manchester City will be delighted to have goal machine Erling Haaland back to full fitness as they head into the knockout stages on Tuesday looking for a fast start to their last-16 tie with FC Copenhagen.
City had to be content with a goalless draw in the Danish capital in last year’s group stage, but both goals in Saturday’s 2-0 Premier League win over Everton demonstrated that Haaland is back to his best and primed to continue his remarkable goalscoring feats in European football’s biggest club competition.
Haaland laid his marker down pretty quickly in the Champions League when he netted a first-half hat-trick on his competition debut, which was a 6-2 victory for RB Salzburg against Belgian side Genk.
However, that is one of only two occasions when he has scored more than twice in a fixture in the competition and he had to wait until this stage of last year’s competition when he became the third player in Champions League history to net five times in one match - in the 7-0 home win over RB Leipzig.
The teenage Haaland scored a total of eight goals in his six matches in the competition for RB Salzburg and then netted 15 goals in 13 Champions League appearances for Borussia Dortmund.
His 16 games for City have yielded 17 goals and he has scored five in six this season before a foot injury kept him out of action from early December until the end of January.
Haaland’s treble against Genk was the first time a player scored a hat-trick in the first half of his Champions League debut and he has been smashing his way through the competition’s record books ever since.
He took seven games to reach 10 Champions League goals, a record that has since been beaten by Sebastien Haller who did it in six, but reaching 20 goals in just 14 games really was eye-catching.
His nearest rival in that statistic, Harry Kane, took 24 games to reach that tally, while it took both Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski 36 games and Kylian Mbappe 37.
The competition’s all-time top goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo took 56 matches, but it took him until his 27th appearance to open his account.
Haaland took both the 30-goal and 40-goal records from Ruud van Nistelrooy, beating the Dutchman in the first metric by nine games and the second by 10.
Haaland still has a long way to go before he reaches the upper echelons of the Champions League greats but for a player who is still only 23, there could be plenty of time.
The Norwegian stands 20th in the list of top goalscorers in the competition, although greats Eusebio and Alfredo di Stefano are above him as the only players who played solely in the European Cup.
They are quite a way down the pecking order, but this is understandable as all the games they played in were two-legged affairs as group-stage matches did not exist until 1992.
Ronaldo holds the record with 140 goals from 183 appearances, but Haaland is on course to beat that tally if he can play as long as the Portuguese star.
Haaland’s ratio of 1.14 goals per game is the greatest in the competition’s history with Bayern Munich legend Gerd Muller next in the list at 0.97 goals per game.
Messi and Lewandowski both average 0.79, Ronaldo’s figure was 0.77, Kane’s is 0.66 while Mbappe’s is 0.64.
With Ronaldo having moved to Saudi Arabia and Messi playing in MLS with Inter Miami, Lewandowski (92 goals), Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller (53 goals) and Mbappe (43 goals) are the only current players in Europe above Haaland in the standings.
The striker would probably be happy to sacrifice personal glory if City could retain the Champions League this season, but he is Evs to end up as the competition’s highest goalscorer, as he did in 2021 when he netted 10 goals for Dortmund, and last term when he scored 12 goals for the Citizens.
Any odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and are subject to fluctuation.