Sebastien Haller of the Ivory Coast said he was “very thrilled and proud” to have set a Champions League goalscoring record that had previously been held by only Cristiano Ronaldo.
As Ajax defeated Sporting Lisbon 4-2 on Tuesday, the 27-year-old slammed home an early penalty, carving his name into the history books of European football’s finest club championship.Only Haller and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo have scored in all six group games in a Champions League season, which took place in 2017-18.
Haller told Ziggo Sport television, “It means a lot.”
“When you first begin something, it is your ambition to play these games well. I’m ecstatic and overjoyed.”
The Dutch press is ecstatic with his achievements, praising the surprise exploits of a striker who struggled to impress in the Premier League with West Ham before joining Ajax at the start of 2021.
The striker “launched himself into the history books” with his eighth-minute penalty against Sporting, according to the AD daily.
With 10 goals in six games, Haller has joined an exclusive group of players, as he is now one of only four men to score in the Champions League group stages.
When you consider that the other three are Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Robert Lewandowski – the Champions League’s all-time leading scorers (with 140, 125, and 82 goals, respectively), it’s easy to see why Haller is receiving so much praise.
He finished the group stage one goal short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 11 goals set in 2015-16, but matched top scorer Erling Braut Haaland’s total from the previous season’s competition.
In Amsterdam, a late continental effect
After joining West Ham for a club-record fee of £45 million from Eintracht Frankfurt in 2019, Haller has had a mixed time in England.
In his debut season with the Hammers, he scored seven Premier League goals, but only three the next season before moving to the Netherlands in January.
After completing his transfer, he told Ajax TV, “This is a club where I can compete in the Champions League and chase titles every season, and it’s that winning attitude that suits me.”
After being kept out of Ajax’s Europa League team last season due to an administrative error, his performances this season are even more impressive. He previously scored five goals in ten European outings for Frankfurt.
Haller’s Champions League season began with a bang, as he became the first player since the legendary Marco van Basten in 1992 to score four goals on his competition debut, as Ajax defeated Sporting 5-1 away from home on matchday one in September.
“Of course, I feel fantastic,” he said, “but especially great with 18 points.” “We can be quite pleased and proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
Haller, the only player in the Champions League to score in his first six games, is set to return in time for the knockout stage in February after his Africa Cup of Nations commitments with the Elephants in January and February.