Football Features

Erling Haaland improves ridiculous Champions League record as Man City remain perfect

By Harry Edwards

Published: 21:59, 6 March 2024

Erling Haaland continued his ridiculous record in the Champions League to help Manchester City cruise into the quarter-finals.

Man City were already comfortable in their last 16 tie against FC Copenhagen, leading 3-1 after the first leg on their quest to retain their Champions League crown. Although there was some slight rotation, Pep Guardiola went pretty strong for the return leg, wanting to guard against any potential comeback.

Any worries of Copenhagen coming back were quickly squashed, with Man City taking a 2-0 lead inside nine minutes. Julian Alvarez was involved in both, setting Manuel Akanji up for the opener before scoring Man City’s second — via a bit of poor goalkeeping from Kamil Grabara.

But the two-goal advantage was restored on the stroke of half time, and it was that man Haaland doing the damage. It was a first half that is becoming typical of Haaland, with the Norwegian on the periphery of the match but still proving deadly.

In the first half, Haaland had just eight touches of the ball, and his last action was to rifle the ball into the back of the net. His sixth Champions League goal of the season, Haaland is level at the top of the charts alongside Kylian Mbappe and Harry Kane. For neutrals, it’s great to see a normal battle for the Golden Boot not hampered by the otherworldly talents of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. And with all three players advancing, it is sure to be a thrilling race.

Six goals for the season is impressive, but the real story here is Haaland’s overall record in the Champions League. The Norwegian has now scored 41 goals in the Champions League, the same amount as Sergio Aguero managed in his career.

Since Haaland made his debut in the competition in September 2019, the Norwegian has netted more than any other player. In second place during that period is Robert Lewandowski on 40 goals for Bayern Munich and Barcelona, while Kylian Mbappe completes the top three with 32 goals. Haaland and Lewandowski are interestingly level on games played in the competition since the start of the 2019/20 season, both at 37, showing just how good both strikers have been.

But 41 goals in 37 games is also Haaland’s overall record for the Champions League, unrivalled among those in the list of top 50 goalscorers. Haaland’s average now stands at 1.11 goals per game in the Champions League, a frankly ridiculous record to have maintained over almost 40 matches.

The Norwegian sits joint-19th in the list of Champions League all-time top goalscorers, already ahead of the likes of Wayne Rooney, Samuel Eto’o, Harry Kane and Edinson Cavani. Level with Aguero, next in Haaland’s sights will be Alessandro Del Piero (42), Neymar (43), Mohamed Salah and Didier Drogba (both 44).

At the top of the list, of course, sits Cristiano Ronaldo with 140 goals in 183 games, an average of 0.77 per match. So, how long until Haaland finds himself usurping Ronaldo? Well, if he continued scoring at his current rate, Haaland would break the record in his 128th game in the Champions League.

Fortunately for Ronaldo, Haaland still has 91 games to go to reach that level. Unfortunately for Ronaldo, the new Champions League format means that Haaland could be playing more games on average per season. There will now be a minimum of eight games in the group stage, with the top eight going straight into the last 16. Should Haaland’s side go finish in the top eight and go all the way, that’s 15 games per season in the Champions League. If Man City were to falter slightly and finish ninth to 16th, there’d be a possible 17 games in the Champions League.

In this hypothetical, while we’ll count Man City to go all the way every year, them not being in the top eight is a little too far-fetched. So, with five more potential games this season, and 15 per season from 2024/25, Haaland could break Ronaldo’s goalscoring record as early as

But even if we take out that unlikely possibility, and just work on the basis on Man City finishing in the top eight (and going all the way), Haaland could break the Champions League record in the 2029/30 season. He still won’t have hit 30 by that campaign, which is frightening. Haaland will reach his 50th goal next season and break a century in the 2027/28 campaign.