The UEFA Champions League now has two goal kings. For the time being.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi moved into a tie with Real Madrid legend Raul for the crown of all-time leading scorer on Wednesday, with the second of two goals against Ajax at the Amsterdam ArenA. Appropriately enough, the play is archetypical Messi, as the Argentinian started the play at the top of the box before servicing Pedro on the left wing, who in turn fed Messi’s continued run for a simple finish.
The goal is Messi’s 71st in 90 total Champions League appearances over the course of his career, an astounding feat considering that Raul took over 50 more appearances (142) with which to set his own record.
Even more astounding is that the record may add a third holder before long, as Ronaldo lurks just behind Messi and Raul with 70 goals in 107 Champions League appearances. Given that and both players’ youth (Ronaldo is 29, Messi is 27), it is likely that the La Liga rivals will trade the all-time mark between them over the remainder of their careers.
Ronaldo has had the better season of the two thus far, though, having gone on an absolute tear with 23 goals (and seven assists) in 16 games across all competitions.
Ronaldo will have his chance to equal (or perhaps surpass) Messi and Raul’s record on November 26, when Real Madrid takes on FC Basel. But even then, the mountain may be higher — Messi and Barcelona play APOEL Nicosia the day before.