The UEFA Champions League (UCL) is one of the most prestigious club competitions in football. Every season, top European teams battle it out to win the trophy; in doing so, some players score many goals. Who are the footballers that have netted the most goals in a single UCL season?
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for the most goals scored in a single UCL season. He is considered one of the greatest footballers ever and has a phenomenal record in the UCL. In the 2013/2014 season, Ronaldo scored an incredible 17 goals in just 11 games for Real Madrid. At the season’s commencement, Ronaldo began exceptionally, netting a hat-trick in Real Madrid’s 6-1 victory against Galatasaray on MD1, followed by an additional six goals during the group stage.
He scored additional goals in the last 16 (four), quarter-finals (one), and semi-finals (two), ultimately concluding his remarkable campaign with a final-minute goal in extra time to secure a 4-1 triumph over rivals Atlético Madrid. His goals helped Real Madrid win their tenth European Cup and cemented his place as one of the all-time greats.
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema was exceptionally prolific in the 2021-22 season, with 15 goals to his name, ten of which he scored during the knockout phases. This achievement ties the record set by Ronaldo in the 2016-17 season.
Benzema scored a hat-trick in the second leg of the last 16 matches against Paris Saint-Germain, followed by another hat-trick in the first leg against Chelsea, and one more goal in the quarter-final second leg. He continued his impressive performance in the semi-finals, scoring three goals across two games against Manchester City. Although he failed to score in the final against Liverpool, Benzema still savoured the victory as his Real Madrid side won the championship again.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Robert Lewandowski has recently established himself as one of the best strikers in world football, and he had a sensational UCL campaign in the 2019/2020 season. The Polish striker scored 15 goals in just ten games for Bayern Munich, helping them win their sixth European Cup. Lewandowski’s 15 goals included four against Red Star Belgrade and a brace against Chelsea.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
During the 2011-12 season, Lionel Messi achieved his most prolific goalscoring feat in the Champions League. He shattered numerous records with an extraordinary tally of 73 goals across 60 games. Messi scored 14 goals in the UCL, with five occurring in a single match against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in March 2012. Another player only matches this feat, and it’s the only instance in which a player has accomplished this during a knockout stage game.
Despite Messi’s exceptional performance, his Barcelona team was eliminated in the semi-finals by Chelsea, who eventually emerged as champions for the 2011-12 season. Messi couldn’t score in both legs of the fixture, despite attempting 12 shots throughout the two games.
As well as the four listed above, two more players have scored more than 10 goals in a single UEFA Champions League season.
Ruud van Nistelrooy for Manchester United in 2002-03 and Erling Haaland for Manchester City in 2022-23 managed to score 12 goals for their clubs in a single season.