Football Features

Robert Lewandowski is gunning for the 2022 Ballon d’Or as he joins Ronaldo and Messi in exclusive UCL club

By Ben Green

Robert Lewandowski is gunning for the 2022 Ballon d'Or as he joins Ronaldo and Messi in exclusive UCL club

Published: 21:50, 8 March 2022 | Updated: 2:11, 29 November 2022

Robert Lewandowski claimed the match ball on Tuesday night as Bayern Munich decimated FC Red Bull Salzburg 7-1 to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

The Bavarians entered their showdown at the Allianz Arena expecting another stern examination from Matthias Jaissle’s youthfully-exuberant Roten Bullen, but normal order resumed in Germany following a close-fought 1-1 in the first leg.

Keen to assert dominance from the off, Julian Nagelsmann’s men wasted little time in stamping their authority on proceedings, breaking the deadlock shortly after 10 minutes through a Lewandowski penalty — and from there, the floodgates were open.

The European veterans, or more specifically, Lewandowski, set to work dismantling Jaissle’s porous backline at free will, netting three by the 23rd minute to become the third-fastest player to score a hat-trick in the Champions League.

By doing so Lewandowski also joined Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as one of only three players to have scored 10 or more goals in three Champions League campaigns. He is now also one of just three players, alongside that devilish duo to score five or more UCL hat-tricks.

It was simply vintage Lewandowski in another night of free-scoring brilliance, as the prolific Pole, never one to give the statisticians a night off, also became the first player in top-flight European football to score 40 goals across all club competitions in 2021/22.

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Snubbed for the previous two Ballon d’Ors (or one, given 2020 was called off when Lewandowski looked a shoo-in), the 33-year-old has no doubt set out his stall early this year, sending a clear message to the decision-makers that he’s determined to claim the coveted gong.

With 12 goals to his name already in Europe’s blue-riband competition, he could yet match — or even break — Ronaldo’s all-time record for most goals in a single Champions League season: 17 for Real Madrid in 2013/14 — certainly if he stays on his current trajectory.

As it stands, though, Lewandowski has further embellished his legacy tonight by becoming one of a holy trinity of double-digit scorers in three UCL games (alongside Messi and Ronaldo). In total, there have been 32 seasons in which a player has scored 10+ goals in a Champions League campaign.

Can you remember all of them?