Lionel Messi sets new Champions League records to beat Cristiano Ronaldo
The rivalry between the two is still very much ongoing but Lionel Messi’s latest achievement is likely to make Cristiano Ronaldo even more bitter about his failed transfer away from Manchester United
Lionel Messi set two new Champions League records on Wednesday night to move past his long-term sporting rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Argentine superstar netted from close-range to draw Paris Saint-Germain level away to Maccabi Haifi in Israel. It came after Tjaronn Chery had given the home side a shock lead – netting their first goal in the competition (outside of qualification matches) for two decades.
Yet the Israeli side’s advantage lasted just 14 minutes as Messi bagged an equaliser in the 37th minute; finding space inside the area after Kylian Mbappe’s probing run, with the ball dropping kindly to Messi, who took a touch to compose himself before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Joshua Cohen.
That strike meant that Messi set multiple Champions League competition records. Maccabi Haifa became the 39th club that the 35-year-old had scored against in the competition. That is more than any other player, moving him clear of Ronaldo – who had netted against 38 different teams in the trophy.
Furthermore, it was the first time that Messi had scored a goal against a club from Israel. That meant that he has now scored against at least one club from all 19 different nations he has faced in the Champions League across his career.
Messi’s strike in Israel also meant that it was the 18th successive season in which he had found the net in the Champions League – another competition record. His first goal in the competition came in the 2005/06 campaign for Barcelona against Greek team Panathinaikos – and the strike in Israel was his 18th season in a row in which he has scored in the competition.
However, Ronaldo still leads Messi in the number of overall goals scored in the Champions League. The Portuguese forward has bagged a total of 140 goals in the competition, while the strike in Haifa moved Messi on to 126 – 14 goals behind the Manchester United forward.
The two superstars are comfortably clear in the competition’s all-time scoring records, with third-placed Robert Lewandowski sitting on 89 goals. Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, who might be eyeing those records over the course of their careers – are on 35 and 25 goals respectively.
Ronaldo is not involved in the Champions League this season after United’s failure to qualify from last season’s Premier League, in which they finished in sixth position. It is the first season that Ronaldo has not been involved in Europe’s premier club competition since 2002/03, before his first switch to Old Trafford from Sporting CP.