We’re dealing with the best of the best here.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s three goals against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final meant he joined long-time sparring partner Lionel Messi on seven hat-tricks in Europe’s premier club competition.
No other player has more than three hat-tricks, that’s how far ahead these two are of everyone else.
In fact, Ronaldo and Messi are responsible for 15% of all Champions League hat-tricks ever.
Here we’re going to match them up, hat-trick for hat-trick, and give a point to the best performance.
We’ll judge them on quality of goals and context (quality of opposition, what stage of the competition, home or away, etc).
By the end we’ll know who is the greatest hat-trick scorer in Champions League history…
The First Hat-Trick
- Ronaldo – Away at Ajax, 4-1 win, Group stage, 2012
- Messi – Home vs Arsenal, 4-0 win, Quarter-finals, 2010
No contest when it comes to their debut hat-tricks.
Messi scored all four in an exhibition for the ages against the Gunners.
The third goal, a scoop/chip over Manuel Almunia, was as audacious as it was effective; in a quarter-final as well…
SCORE: Ronaldo 0 Messi 1
The Second Hat-Trick
- Ronaldo – Away at Galatasaray, 6-1 win, Group stage, 2013
- Messi – Away at Viktor Plzen, 4-0 win, Group stage, 2011
Tough call this one.
Ronaldo was certainly up against tougher opposition but a couple of his goals were regulation tap-ins.
Messi’s first was a penalty but his last two were vintage Barcelona; quick, devastating passing before merciless Messi finishes.
Going to have to call this one a draw.
SCORE: Ronaldo 0 Messi 1
The Third Hat-Trick
- Ronaldo – Home vs Shakhtar Donetsk, 4-0 win, Group stage, 2015
- Messi – Home vs Bayer Leverkusen, 7-1 win, Round of 16, 2012
Two penalties and a free header for Ronaldo… there’s no such thing as an easy hat-trick of course but this was a walk in the park for the Poruguese superstar.
As for Messi, well,he treated us to something truly special that night.
He became the first player to achieve to score five goals in one game in the knockout stages of the competition.
A frighteningly ruthless display from a player who occasionally shows mercy when games are as good as done.
SCORE: Ronaldo 0 Messi 2
The Fourth Hat-Trick
- Ronaldo – Home vs Malmo, 8-0 win, Group stage, 2015
- Messi – Home vs Ajax, 4-0 win, Group stage, 2013
Both got the ball rolling with a free-kick for their fourth Champions League triple.
Poor Malmo didn’t put up much resistance under the Bernabeu’s spotlight.
Ronaldo scored four but Messi just edges this one because he was up against tougher opponents and his goals were considerably more artistic.
SCORE: Ronaldo 0 Messi 3
The Fifth Hat-Trick
- Ronaldo – Home vs Wolfsburg, 3-0 win, Round of 16, 2016
- Messi – Away at APOEL, 4-0 win, Group stage, 2014
This was Ronaldo at his competitive, match-winning best.
2-0 down from the first leg, he takes the game by the scruff of the neck and scores all three to propel Madrid into the quarter-finals single-handedly.
Ronaldo takes this one in terms of both quality and context.
SCORE: Ronaldo 1 Messi 3
The Sixth Hat-trick
- Ronaldo – Home vs Bayern Munich, 4-2 win, Quarter-finals, 2017
- Messi – Home vs Celtic, 7-0 win, Group stage, 2016
It’s a testament to the pair’s longevity that they have both scored two hat-tricks in this year’s campaign.
Messi tore Brendan Rodgers’ side apart but Ronaldo did it against some of the world’s best defenders and, in the shape of Manuel Neuer, arguably the best keeper.
Sure two of the goals should have been disallowed for offside but that’s up to the officials, all Ronaldo can do is put the ball in the net, and boy did he do at that.
In a game littered with special talents, Ronaldo once again grabbed the headlines.
SCORE: Ronaldo 2 Messi 3
The Seventh Hat-trick
- Ronaldo – Home vs Atletico Madrid, 3-0 win, Semi-finals, 2017
- Messi – Home vs Man City, 4-0 win, Group stage, 2016
Relatively even in terms of opposition but there’s a big difference between doing it in the group stages and dominating a semi-final.
A local derby no less, against a team renowned for their defensive qualities.
A superhuman display of goalscoring, this was Ronaldo 3.0, the clinical poacher, at his very best.
FINAL SCORE: Ronaldo 3 Messi 3
We should have known… inseparable.
You can take a look at hat-trick number two again if you really want to split the two but we honestly can’t call it.
We’ll just have to wait for them to score some more… shouldn’t be too long.