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Haller makes unwanted Champions League history following Ajax’s exit

8:42 AM SGT 16/3/22
Haller Champions League
The Cote d’Ivoire international suffered an exasperating night as his Dutch outfit fell to defeat against Nelson Verissimo’s Eagles

Sebastien Haller has become the first player to score 11+ goals in a Champions League season and not play in at least the quarter-final stage.

The Cote d’Ivoire international was in action from start to finish but could not rescue Ajax from losing 1-0 at home to Benfica in Tuesday’s second leg of the competition’s last 16.

In the process, Erik ten Hag’s men crashed out 3-2 on aggregate, thus bringing Haller’s impressive debut campaign to an end.

Haller’s four goals in Ajax’s 5-1 obliteration of Sporting Lisbon saw him match Marco van Basten’s 29-year-old Champions League record as the second player to score four goals on his maiden appearance in the tournament’s history.

The 27-year-old became the first player in Champions League history to score five goals in his first two appearances in the competition thanks to his goal in the 2-0 triumph over Besiktas. 

In addition, the former Eintracht Frankfurt and West Ham United man is the fifth player to score in his first two Champions League appearances for Ajax – equalling the feat attained by Jari Litmanen (1994), Rafael van der Vaart (2002), Quincy Promes (2019) and Berghuis (2021).

Haller did not stop there becoming the first player to score nine goals in five Champions League games.

Speaking after the match against the Portuguese side, manager Ten Hag blamed ill-luck for his side’s elimination.

"We have learned from the mistakes in Lisbon. And that is difficult against this team,” he told the media.

“We did not allow a counter today. The organisation was good. They didn't get a moment to get out.

“The luck factor also plays a role. In the end, you know that not much is going to be created. Everything has to be at this level. And it wasn't."

Ajax will now shift their focus on their Eredivisie game against Feyenoord on Sunday.