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Champions League goal records: Most scored in a season, in a match, and all-time in UCL history

The UEFA Champions League is considered the world’s preeminent club tournament, and players can become legends with great performances in Europe’s top competition.

And since scoring goals is considered the most glamorous skill in football, those who find the back of the net consistently can earn legendary status in the game.

Stars of the past, present, and future clash in the Champions League record books, with their goalscoring marks considered among the most coveted records of all time. Today, talents like Erling Haaland the Kylian Mbappe look like they have what it takes to match the exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have left their indelible mark on Europe’s elite tournament.

The Sporting News brings you the top names and numbers for the goalscoring legends of all-time in European play. The lists below combine goalscoring from both iterations of UEFA’s top competition: the European Cup (beginning in 1955) and the Champions League (since 1992/93).

MORE: Updated goalscoring leaders for 2022/23 Champions League season

Record for most Champions League goals in a season?

Cristiano Ronaldo holds the two greatest seasons in European club football history.

His record from the 2013/14 season still stands after nearly a decade, scoring 17 goals across 11 matches and 993 minutes as Real Madrid won the title during that campaign. Ronaldo scored in every single match he appeared in except one, going 73 goal-less minutes in the first leg of their semifinal match against Bayern. He started the Champions League with a hat-trick against Galatasaray to open group stage play, and added braces against FC Copenhagen, Juventus, Schalke (twice), and Bayern Munich.

He would nearly repeat that incredible feat just two seasons later, bagging 16 goals as Madrid yet again won the title. He scored hat-tricks against Shakhtar Donetsk and Wolfsburg, plus a four-goal stunner against Malmo in the group stage. That year, Ronaldo would manage ‘just’ five goals in the knockout stage, doing most of the work early on in a soft group stage. He was held off the scoresheet in the semifinals and final, but Madrid hoisted the trophy anyway.

Ironically, in both seasons, Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final, needing extra-time on one occasion, and a penalty-kick shootout in the other.

Lionel Messi’s best season ranks him sixth, bagging 14 goals in the 2011/12 season as Barcelona reached the semifinals before falling to Chelsea. Others on the list from football’s earlier days include goal hawk Jose Altafini, German great Gerd ‘Der Bomber’ Muller, and Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas, for whom FIFA’s Goal of the Season award is named.

Rank Player Club Season Goals
1. Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 2013/14 17
2. Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 2015/16 16
3. Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich 2019/20 15
  Karim Benzema Real Madrid 2021/22 15
  Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 2017/18 15
6. Lionel Messi Barcelona 2011/12 14
  Jose Altafini AC Milan 1962/63 14
8. Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich 2021/22 13
9. Lionel Messi Barcelona 2018/19 12
  Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 2016/17 12
  Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 2012/13 12
  Mario Gomez Bayern Munich 2011/12 12
  Lionel Messi Barcelona 2010/11 12
  Ruud van Nistelrooy Man United 2002/03 12
  Gerd Muller Bayern Munich 1972/73 12
  Ferenc Puskas Real Madrid 1959/60 12

What is the record for most Champions League goals all-time?

With consistent goalscoring numbers in European play season after season, it’s no surprise that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are atop the Champions League career goalscoring charts.

A wide gap exists below those two all-time greats and the duo chasing them: Robert Lewandowski (3rd) and Karim Benzema (4th).

The top non-active player is Raul with 71 goals, with Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy 15 goals behind him.

Champions League career goals as of March 14, 2023.

Rank Player Clubs Goals
1. Cristiano Ronaldo* Man United, Real Madrid, Juventus 140
2. Lionel Messi* Barcelona, PSG 129
3. Robert Lewandowski* Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich,
4. Karim Benzema* Olympique Lyon, Real Madrid 88
5. Raul Real Madrid, Schalke 71
6. Ruud van Nistelrooy PSV Eindhoven, Man United,
Real Madrid
7. Thomas Muller* Bayern Munich 53
8. Thierry Henry AS Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona 50
9. Alfredo Di Stefano Real Madrid 49
10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic* Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan,
Barcelona, PSG
  Andriy Shevchenko Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea 48

* Active players

Who has the most Champions League hat-tricks?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are both tied atop the Champions League hat-trick list, with twice as many as anyone else in the history of the competition save Robert Lewandowski who’s just two behind.

Only four players in history have more than three hat-tricks in UEFA’s top competition, which makes the eight that Ronaldo and Messi each own that much more incredible.

Champions League hat-tricks as of March 14, 2023

Rank Player Clubs Hat-tricks
1. Cristiano Ronaldo* Man United, Real Madrid, Juventus 8
  Lionel Messi* Barcelona, PSG 8
3. Robert Lewandowski* Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona 6
4. Karim Benzema* Olympique Lyon, Real Madrid 4
5. Mario Gomez Stuttgart, Bayern Munich 3
  Neymar* Barcelona, PSG 3
  Filippo Inzaghi Juventus, AC Milan 3
  Luiz Adriano* Shakhtar Donetsk, AC Milan 3

* Active player

Most goals scored in a Champions League match?

Nobody has ever scored more than five goals in a single Champions League or European Cup match, which has surprisingly been done 15 times in history, including five times in the Champions League era.

It’s only happened four times since the turn of the millennium, with Erling Haaland the latest to achieve the feat in 2023.

The only club to concede five Champions League goals by a single player twice is Cypriot side Omonia, which saw it happen both times in the 1970’s.

Season Player Stage Club Opponent
2022/23 Erling Haaland Round of 16 Manchester City RB Leipzig
2014/15 Luiz Adriano Group Stage Shakhtar Donetsk BATE Borisov
2014/15 David Lafata 2nd Qualifying Round Sparta Prague Levadia Tallinn
2011/12 Lionel Messi Round of 16 Barcelona Bayer Leverkusen
1999/00 Mihails Miholaps 1st Qualifying Round Skonto Riga Jeunesse Esch
1979/80 Soren Lerby 2nd Round Ajax Omonia
1978/79 Claudio Sulser 1st Round Grasshoppers Valletta
1972/73 Gerd Muller 2nd Round Bayern Munich Omonia
1966/67 Paul van Himst 1st Round Anderlecht Haka
1965/66 Florian Albert Preliminary Round Ferencvaros Keflavik
1964/65 Nikola Kotov Preliminary Round Lokomotiv Sofia Malmo FF
1962/63 Ray Crawford Preliminary Round Ipswich Town Floriana
1962/63 Jose Altafini Preliminary Round AC Milan Union Luxembourg
1961/62 Bent Lofqvist Preliminary Round Boldklubben 1993 Spora
1959/60 Ove Olsson Preliminary Round Gothenburg Linfield

Fastest hat-trick in Champions League history?

Hat-tricks have been a coveted milestone for any goalscorer across European competition, but records have been shattered in the past few seasons.

In the 2021/22 competition, Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick against RB Salzburg in the second leg of their Round of 16 matchup just 23 minutes from the opening whistle, which still sits as the fastest hat-trick in the competitions history.

However, the following year, Mohamed Salah carved out a piece of his own history. Coming off the bench in the 68th minute of Liverpool’s group stage match against Rangers at Ibrox, Salah scored a hat-trick with under seven minutes from the first goal to the third goal, marking the quickest hat-trick in Champions League history between goals scored.

MORE: Full review of fastest hat-tricks in Champions League history

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