Top 5 greatest hat-tricks in Champions League history
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The Champions League is the single most prestigious competition in club football and it is for this reason that players give their utmost in a bid to make a mark in the tournament, with legendary displays in the Champions League guaranteed to grant such player immortality.
When it comes to making a mark, there are not many bigger scenarios than scoring a hat-trick, with the rare feat of scoring three or more goals in a match automatically generating a buzz all around the world.
Since the rebranding of the competition in 1992, the Champions League has witnessed 127 hat-tricks, with 85 players scoring three or more goals in a single match for 47 different clubs.
Several players have written their name into the hat-trick folklore, with Jull Ellerman scoring the first hat-trick for PSV in the first season of the competition in September 1992, while Raul Gonzalez was the youngest to achieve the feat when he did so in October 1995 for Real Madrid.
Thirteen players have scored four goals or more in a single game, while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo lead the way with eight Champions League hat-tricks apiece.
Expectedly, all hat-tricks are not valued equally and players who score three or more goals in a crunch knockout fixture would be more valued than those who do so in dead rubber group stage fixture.
Here, with emphasis on the strength of the opposition and importance of the fixture, we shall be ranking the five greatest hat-tricks in Champions League history.
Honourable mentions: Ronaldo Nazario: Manchester United v Real Madrid (April 23, 2003) Lionel Messi: Barcelona vs Arsenal (April 6, 2010), Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid (May 02, 2017)
#5 Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich
Santiago Bernabeu (April 18, 2017)
Cristiano Ronaldo is called 'Mr Champions League' for a reason and of his eight hat-tricks in the competition, four have come in the knockout rounds, with his goals ultimately proving to be the difference between progression and elimination for his teams.
The Madeira native could well have occupied all five spots in this list and his first entry came in the second leg of the quarter-final clash between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Ronaldo had earlier scored a brace in the first leg to condemn the Germans to a 2-1 defeat on their patch and he levelled matters in the second leg after Lewandowski had put the visitors ahead only for a late Sergio Ramos own goal to give Bayern Munich a 2-1 lead and force extra time.
From then on, it became a Ronaldo affair, with his two goals in the extra 30 minutes handing the advantage to Real Madrid in what was an eventual 6-3 aggregate win.
Real Madrid ended the season by becoming the first team to successfully defend their Champions League crown and their talisman won a fifth consecutive Champions League Golden Boot with 12 goals which was spectacular, considering that he came into quarterfinal clash with Bayern with just two goals from his opening eight matches.