Haller: Ajax star equals Van Basten’s Champions League record
Sebastien Haller’s four goals in Ajax’s 5-1 obliteration of Sporting CP has seen him match Marco van Basten’s 29-year-old Champions League record.
The Cote d’Ivoire international became just the second player to score four goals on his maiden appearance in the competition’s history.
Prior to the Ivorian’s heroics, Netherlands great Van Basten was the only player to achieve that feat – which he first accomplished in November 1992 against IFK Goteborg during his spell at Serie A side AC Milan.
Also, Haller’s heroics saw him become the first-ever African player to score four times in a Champions League match.
Overall, he joined Simone Inzaghi, Dado Prso, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Andriy Shevchenko, Lionel Messi, Bafetimbi Gomis, Mario Gomez, Robert Lewandowski, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Josip Ilicic and Olivier Giroud in the ranks of players who have scored at least four goals in a match in the European elite club tournament.
The African star led the Sons of the Gods attack alongside Antony and Dusan Tadic while counting on support from midfielders Edson Alvarez, Steven Berghuis and Ryan Gravenberch.
Two minutes into the game at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, he nodded Ajax ahead after Anthony’s shot deflected onto the post.
Haller completed his brace seven minutes later after tapping Anthony’s assist past stranded goalkeeper Antonio Adan.
In the goal-laden first half, the hosts pulled one back through Paulinho who put Matheus Luiz’s pass beyond goalkeeper Remko Pasveer to give Ruben Amorim’s men a flicker of hope.
Steven Berghuis restored Ajax’s two-goal advantage after converting a fine pass from Ryan Gravenberch six minutes before the half-time break.
Antony’s lovely pass to Haller in the 51st minute saw the former West Ham United player grab his first-ever hat-trick. He wasn’t done yet as he netted Ajax’s fifth goal three minutes after the hour mark thanks to an assist from Noussair Mazraoui.
He was on parade from start to finish while Mazraoui was substituted for Devyne Rensch in the 70th minute.
For Sporting Lisbon, Morocco international Zouhair Feddal played for all 90 minutes while Cape Verde star Jovane Cabral – who was named in the starting XI – was subbed off for Pablo Sarabia in the 46th minute.