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Champions League all-time top scorers: Ronaldo, Messi, Lewandowski

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi lead the way, but the race for third is hotting up.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his 136th UEFA Champions League goal
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his 136th UEFA Champions League goal PA Images via Getty Images

First contested in 1992/93, the UEFA Champions League has become synonymous with the very best strikers in world football history, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski able to rack up UEFA club competition goal tallies that previous generations could only dream of. Ronaldo and Messi are the only players to date to score over 100 goals in the competition, and like the remaining players in the all-time European Cup/UEFA Champions League top ten, neither featured in the competition when it was still the European Cup.

That competition, first contested in 1955/56, was knockout ties all the way, the lack of a group stage meaning players had fewer matches per season to score in; Real Madrid played just seven games as they won the inaugural edition, while 2020/21 UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea played 13. The all-time top European Cup scorer Alfredo di Stéfano scored 49 goals in just 58 appearances in the competition, a goals-per-game rate that none of the modern greats can match.

Top UEFA Champions League scorers (excluding qualifying)

Watch all Cristiano Ronaldo's Champions League goals
Watch all Cristiano Ronaldo's Champions League goals

Cristiano Ronaldo is the top scorer of all time in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA club competition as well as the most prolific in the history of senior international football. He was not initially an out-and-out striker, and did not score until his 27th UEFA Champions League game during his first spell at Manchester United. However, after switching from the wing to a central striking role, the Portuguese great started to find the net with frightening regularity, continuing to rack up big numbers after leaving Old Trafford for Real Madrid.

On 14 February 2018, he became the first player to reach 100 goals in the UEFA Champions League, bringing up his century in his 144th appearance. Ronaldo has won the competition once with United and four times with Real Madrid, and is the only player to date to have scored in three UEFA Champions League finals. Like Messi, he has scored eight UEFA Champions League hat-tricks.

All-time UEFA Champions League top scorers

140: Cristiano Ronaldo (POR, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
125: Lionel Messi (ARG, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain)
82: Robert Lewandowski (POL, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern München)
76:
Karim Benzema (FRA, Lyon, Real Madrid)
71:
Raúl González (ESP, Real Madrid, Schalke)
56: Ruud van Nistelrooy (NED, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Real Madrid)
50: Thierry Henry (FRA, Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona)
50: Thomas Müller (GER, Bayern München)
48:
Zlatan Ibrahimović (SWE, Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United)
48: Andriy Shevchenko (UKR, Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea)
46:
Filippo Inzaghi (ITA, Juventus, AC Milan)

Most UEFA Champions League goals for one club (excluding qualifying)

All of Messi's 2021 Champions League goals
All of Messi's 2021 Champions League goals

Lionel Messi left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2021 having scored 120 goals for the Spanish club in the UEFA Champions League – a record that even Cristiano Ronaldo, with his 105 for Madrid, could not challenge, although the Portuguese phenomenon reached the 100 mark for his club first. Along with Karim Benzema, Messi has now scored in 17 successive editions of the competition, and is the only player to have scored in 16 successive campaigns in Europe’s top club competition for the same team.

The Argentinian joined Barcelona in early 2001 when he was just 13, and stuck with the team for the next 20 years, winning the UEFA Champions League four times in addition to ten Liga titles, seven editions of the Copa del Rey and three UEFA Super Cups. He was the second player to reach 100 UEFA Champions League goals (after Cristiano Ronaldo) and has been top scorer (or joint top scorer) in six UEFA Champions League seasons, one fewer than Ronaldo has managed.

120: Lionel Messi (ARG, Barcelona)
105: Cristiano Ronaldo (POR, Real Madrid)
66: Raúl González (ESP, Real Madrid)
65:
Robert Lewandowski (POL, Bayern München)
64:
Karim Benzema (FRA, Real Madrid)
50: Thomas Müller (GER, Bayern München)
41: Alessandro Del Piero (ITA, Juventus)
36: Sergio Agüero (ARG, Manchester City)
36: Didier Drogba (CIV, Chelsea)
35: Thierry Henry (FRA, Arsenal)
35: Ruud van Nistelrooy (NED, Manchester United)

Top European Cup/UEFA Champions League scorers (including qualifying rounds)

Watch all four of Ronaldo's final goals
Watch all four of Ronaldo's final goals

A losing finalist with Borussia Dortmund against Bayern in 2013, Robert Lewandowski finally won the competition with the Bavarian club in 2020, and though he did not score in the decisive 1-0 win against Paris, he ended the campaign as top scorer for the first time with 15 goals. Messi or Ronaldo had been top scorer (or joint-top scorer) in the previous 12 UEFA Champions League campaigns.

The most prolific foreign goalscorer in Bundesliga history, 'Lewy' took just 100 games to score 80 UEFA Champions League goals; Messi took 102 games to reach the same mark and Ronaldo 116.

141: Cristiano Ronaldo (POR, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus)
125
: Lionel Messi (ARG, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain)
82: Robert Lewandowski (POL, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern München)
76
: Karim Benzema (FRA, Lyon, Real Madrid)
71
: Raúl González (ESP, Real Madrid)
60:
Ruud van Nistelrooy (NED, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Real Madrid)
59:
Andriy Shevchenko (UKR, Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea)
51: Thierry Henry (FRA, Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona)
50: Filippo Inzaghi (ITA, Juventus, AC Milan)
50: Thomas Müller (GER, Bayern München)

Top European Cup scorers (including qualifying rounds)

Alfredo di Stéfano with the trophy in 1956
Alfredo di Stéfano with the trophy in 1956Popperfoto via Getty Images

The European Cup - or European Champion Clubs’ Cup to give it its full name - was UEFA’s first major men’s club competition, and began in 1955. Real Madrid won the opening five editions, their Argentinian-born forward Alfredo di Stéfano racking up 49 goals, a tally that no one was able to match in the 37 seasons before the competition was reinvented as the UEFA Champions League.

The player who initially came closest to taking Di Stéfano’s record was Portuguese phenomenon Eusébio, the talented striker scoring 47 goals as his Benfica side replaced Madrid as the pre-eminent force in world club football for a time. Even he could not match the goals-per-game record of Bayern’s 1970s star Gerd Müller, whose 34 European Cup goals came in just 35 games – a rate of 0.97 per match that no player, before or during the UEFA Champions League era, has managed to emulate over a career lasting 20 or more games.

49: Alfredo Di Stéfano (ARG/ESP, Real Madrid)
47: Eusébio (POR, Benfica)
35: Ferenc Puskás (HUN, Honvéd, Real Madrid)
34: Gerd Müller (GER, Bayern München)
32: Francisco Gento (ESP, Real Madrid)

UEFA Champions League top scorers by season (group stage to final)

Watch Haaland's first 20 Champions League goals
Watch Haaland's first 20 Champions League goals

In 2019/20, Bayern’s Lewandowski ended a run of 12 UEFA Champions League seasons in which either Ronaldo or Messi were the UEFA Champions League’s top scorer (or joint-top scorer). The Polish forward was unable to retain his title the following season, Dortmund’s Erling Haaland finishing top of the 2020/21 rankings with ten goals, two more than second-ranked Kylian Mbappé, with the two forwards widely predicted to have the same kind of striking competition at the highest level of European football that Ronaldo and Messi have enjoyed for more than a decade.

Norwegian international Haaland – son of tough tackling Norway midfielder Alf Inge Håland – hit the ground running, scoring a hat-trick on his UEFA Champions League debut for Salzburg against Genk in 2019/20, and going on to become the first teenager to find the net in five successive UEFA Champions League games. He moved to Dortmund midway through that campaign, ending it with ten goals: only Lewandowski, with 15, managed more. In total, Haaland scored 20 goals in his first 24 European games; at an equivalent stage Mbappé had scored 12, Messi eight, Lewandowski six and Cristiano Ronaldo just one.

2020/21: Erling Haaland (Dortmund) – 10
2019/20: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern) – 15
2018/19
: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 12
2017/18
: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 15
2016/17: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 12
2015/16
: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 16
2014/15: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Neymar (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 10
2013/14: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 17
2012/13: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 12
2011/12: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 14
2010/11: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 12
2009/10: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 8
2008/09: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 9
2007/08: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) – 8
2006/07: Kaká (AC Milan) – 10
2005/06: Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan) – 9
2004/05: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United) – 8
2003/04: Fernando Morientes (Monaco) – 9
2002/03: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United) – 12
2001/02: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United) – 10
2000/01: Raúl González (Real Madrid) – 7
1999/2000: Mário Jardel (Porto), Rivaldo (Barcelona), Raúl González (Real Madrid) – 10
1998/99: Andriy Shevchenko (Dynamo Kyiv), Dwight Yorke (Manchester United) – 8
1997/98: Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus) – 10
1996/97: Milinko Pantić (Atlético Madrid) – 5
1995/96: Jari Litmanen (Ajax) – 9
1994/95: George Weah (Paris Saint-Germain) – 7
1993/94: Hristo Stoichkov (Barcelona) – 5
1992/93: Franck Sauzée (Marseille) – 5