UEFA Champions League: Ajax striker makes Champions League history with a brace against Besiktas

(Football news) The Ivory Coast international came off the bench to rescue Ajax’s 100% win record with a 2-1 victory over Besiktas as Sebastien Haller’s second half brace inspired them to victory. In doing so, Haller became the first player to score nine goals in five Champions League matches The result also secured Ajax’s dominance in Group C with 15 points after five matches and it also made them the second Dutch club in the Champions League history to win five matches after Feyenoord managed it in 1971-72.

Sebastien Haller since joining in January from West Ham has completely changed his career, he has now become the fourth player to score in each of the first five Champions League matches and joins in the elite company of Alessandro Del Piero (1995), Diego Costa (2014) and Erling Haaland (2019). With nine goals in five matches so far, the Ivorian striker is now nearing Soren Lerby’s record for being Ajax’s highest scorer in a single Champions League with 10 goals from eight games. With his brace, he also joined Robert Lewandowski at the top of Champions League goalscoring charts this season.

After his move last January for 22.6 million euros from West Ham where he was touted as a huge flop, The 27 year old Ivory Coast international has scored 14 goals in 54 appearances with Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag playing an instrumental role in revitalising his career. He has since scored a remarkable 31 goals and 12 assists in 41 appearances for the Dutch giants, this season he already has 9 goals in 13 matches in the Everdivise to help Ajax remain at the summit of the table. The reason for Haller’s magnificent goal tally is down to Erik Ten Hag’s expansive and attacking brand of playing football as this season in itself they have managed to score 42 goals in 13 Eredivisie matches so far. They have the competition's second-highest non-penalty expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes behind Manchester City, more expected assists than Bayern by a margin of six percent and have created the joint most chances in the group stages.

Erik Ten Hag’s managerial record for Ajax is phenomenal, in 185 games he has won 135 matches scoring a staggering 506 goals, conceding only 157 goals and winning 4 trophies in his 4 year tenure. It is not a surprise that a striker of Haller’s quality who was lacking a bit of confidence in West Ham is scoring goals for fun in a system that only suits him but it is a system that is making Ten Hag get linked to all the big clubs in the world.

After the match Ten Hag said, “I liked the comeback from my players. We were down at halftime but we showed great attitude in the second half. It is not easy, especially against Besiktas, with their supporters. But we were able to turn it around and it is a good feeling, it gives us confidence.

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Haller on his struggles with West Ham said “At the time it was a good step to go to West Ham. The people were nice to me and the project is why I decided to move. After one-and-a-half years It was the best solution for both parties to separate. It’s never easy to understand why it was not going well and it was not perfect for me.”


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