Solskjaer proud as Haaland closes in on his Champions League record

By Dom Farrell 2 December 2020 41
Solskjaer proud as Haaland closes in on his Champions League record

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows Erling Haaland's rapid rise means his days as the top-scoring Norwegian in Champions League history are numbered. 

Manchester United boss Solskjaer coached Haaland when he was a teenager at Molde in their homeland. 

Since moving first to Salzburg and then Borussia Dortmund, Haaland has exploded onto European football's biggest stage. 

Dortmund entertain Lazio on Wednesday, with Haaland already on 16 Champions League goals. 

Solskjaer, who famously netted a stoppage-time winner for United in the 1999 final against Bayern Munich, will take charge of the Red Devils against Paris Saint-Germain this week and remains full of admiration for his young compatriot. 

"He'll beat it and very quickly that’s for sure," he told reporters, referring to his own tally of 19 goals in the competition. 

"The boy has had a great start to his career. It was really good to work with him and to see the potential in him and some parts of me feel proud to have a little bit of an input in such a rise. 

"I'm sure Erling will score loads of goals in the Champions League."

Haaland is the third-highest scoring player from Norway in the Champions League, with ex-Valencia and Lyon striker John Carew next in his sights on 18. 

However, the time in which the 20-year-old has amassed his tally is remarkable, as he dwarfs his countrymen when it comes to goals per minute. 

Solskjaer, who famously made a habit out of goalscoring cameos from the bench, got his 19 Champions League goal at a rate of one every 189 minutes, while Carew's ratio was one per 218 minutes. 

Haaland launched his Champions League career with a hat-trick when Salzburg thrashed Genk 6-2 last September. His scoring frequency has barely let up since, with his 16 tallying at one every 56 minutes. 

Since that incredible maiden outing, only Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has scored more in the competition - a haul of 18 during that period playing a big part in the Bundesliga giants' march to glory last season. 

Lewandowski and Haaland are very much out on their own, with the former's Bayern colleague Serge Gnabry next on nine goals - four of which arrived during a 7-2 thumping of Tottenham. 

First with Atletico Madrid and now with Juventus, Alvaro Morata has managed eight Champions League goals since Haaland's debut, while Timo Werner and Karim Benzema join Manchester City duo Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling on seven. 

Lionel Messi is one of seven players on six goals during the period in question, while Cristiano Ronaldo has five. 

In terms of minutes-per-goal, Haaland is only bettered by Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, with the England international's total of five arriving at a rate of one every 50.4 minutes - a return bolstered by his hat-trick against RB Leipzig last month. 

The Dortmund youngster's reputation as a dead-eyed finisher is certainly well-earned, too. 

Morata (47 per cent) is the only player with six or more goals to boast a better shot conversion rate than Haaland's 44.4 - outstripping Lewandowski's 32.7 per cent. 

If he does beat Solskjaer's mark "very quickly" it will be entirely consistent with Haaland's career to date, which is in a gloriously prolific hurry.

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Dom Farrell

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