Sebastien Haller’s Champions League debut is unlikely to be topped any time soon.
From a European point of view—let alone an African point of view—it surely deserves consideration among the greatest UCL debuts of all time.
The striker netted four times in Ajax’s 5-1 demolition of Sporting Lisbon in Gameweek One, demonstrating the breadth of quality to suggest that he will be a firm success in the Champions League.
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In scoring four times against Sporting—twice in each half—Haller became only the 16th player to have netted a quartet of goals in a single UCL fixture.
Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo are among the players to have scored four in a single fixture, while Messi and Robert Lewandowski have achieved the feat twice.
Haller is the first player to realise this haul in a single game since Olivier Giroud in October 2020, and the first African player to register the achievement.
His performance emulated Ajax legend Marco van Basten, who became—in November 1992—the first player to register four in a single game.
However, while the Dutch great registered his four goals at home against Gothenburg, Haller’s haul came away from home, making his performance all the more outstanding.
His showing was one of the key talking points on a recent episode of Goal Africa’s Hot Seat, as Oluwaseye Omidiora discusses the significance of Haller’s showing.
It took only nine minutes for him to head Ajax into the lead, and also demonstrated another of his attributes—his close-range finishing—to add a second before the interval.
Paulinho and Steven Berghuis scored one each for Sporting and Ajax respectively, before Haller two more inside the second half, with the fourth coming following fine work from Noussair Mazraoui.
While his performance may come as a shock to West Ham United fans, with their club taking a £25 million loss when they sold Haller to Ajax for £20 million, his showings have been excellent this term.
As well as his quartet in the Champions League, Haller also has five goals and two assists in seven Eredivisie outings last term, having won the title with Ajax last season.
Can he maintain his fine form against Besiktas on Thursday?