Champions League: How many players have scored hat-tricks in the knockout stages?

Ronaldo has netted three in the Champions League knockouts

The Champions League returns on Friday night following a five-month break to the competition.

Before the coronavirus pandemic rocked the sporting world, half of the last-16 ties were completed, while the other half were not.

On Friday, Manchester City host Real Madrid at the Etihad, looking to advance to the quarter-finals with a 2-1 advantage, while Juventus need to overturn a 1-0 first-leg defeat against Lyon. 

24 hours later, Bayern Munich host Chelsea with a 3-0 lead and Barcelona will look to advance against Napoli - that tie is all square at 1-1. 

Before the competition was put on hold, Atalanta booked their place in the last eight thanks to Josip Ilicic's second-leg hat-trick against Valencia. 

In fact that night, he didn't just score three - he scored four!

The Slovenian's impressive feat got us thinking ahead of the Champions League return... who else has scored three goals in a single knockout game? 

Ilicic netted four in the knockouts against Valencia

Since the European Cup was rebranded in the 1992/93 season, only 20 players have done it. So, check out every Champions League knockout hat-trick hero below: 

1. Franck Sauzee | Marseille 6-0 CSKA Moscow | 17 March 1993

2. Filippo Inzaghi | Juventus 4-1 Dynamo Kyiv | 18 March 1998

Inzaghi has netted a knockout hat-trick

3. Alessandro Del Piero | Juventus 4-1 Monaco | 1 April 1998

4. Simone Inzaghi (4 goals) | Lazio 5-1 Marseille | 14 March 2000

5. Gerard Lopez | Valencia 5-2 Lazio | 5 April 2000 

Lopez got three against Lazio

6. Walter Pandiani | Real Deportivo 4-3 PSG | 7 March 2001

7. Alan Shearer | Newcastle United 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen | 26 February 2003

8. Ronaldo Nazario | Real Madrid 3-4 Man United | 23 April 2003 

Ronaldo has netted a UCL hat-trick

9. Sylvain Wiltord | Lyon 7-2 Werder Bremen | 8 March 2005

10. Adriano | Inter Milan 3-1 Porto | 15 March 2005

11. Nicklas Bendtner | Arsenal 5-0 Porto | 9 March 2010 

Bendtner has scored three in one game

12. Lionel Messi (4 goals) | Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal | 6 April 2010

13. Ivica Olic | Bayern Munich 3-0 Lyon | 27 April 2010

14. Lionel Messi (5 goals) | Barcelona 7-1 Bayer Leverkusen | 7 March 2012 

Messi netted three against Leverkusen

15. Mario Gomez (4 goals) | Bayern Munich 7-0 Basel | 13 March 2012

16. Robert Lewandowski (4 goals) | Borussia Dortmund 4-1 Real Madrid | 24 April 2013

17. Robin van Persie | Man United 6-0 Olympiacos | 19 March 2014

Van Persie scored a hat-trick in 2014

18. Cristiano Ronaldo | Real Madrid 3-0 Wolfsburg | 12 April 2016

19. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang | Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Benfica | 8 March 2017

20. Cristiano Ronaldo | Real Madrid 4-2 Bayern Munich | 18 April 2017

Ronaldo has plenty of hat-tricks in the UCL

21. Cristiano Ronaldo | Real Madrid 3-0 Atletico Madrid | 2 May 2017

22. Sadio Mane | Liverpool 5-0 Porto | 14 February 2018

23. Cristiano Ronaldo | Juventus 3-0 Atletico Madrid | 12 March 2019 

Ronaldo did it again vs Atletico

24. Lucas Moura | Tottenham 3-2 Ajax | 8 May 2019

25. Josip Ilicic (4 goals) | Atalanta 4-3 Valencia | 10 March 2020 

Ilicic netted four vs Valencia

So, only 25 hat-tricks have been scored in Champions League knockout fixtures and two players have scored them multiple times. 

No prizes for guessing which two... Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi vs Ronaldo... again

Barcelona's superstar achieved the feat against Arsenal in 2010 and Bayer Leverkusen in 2012. 

Messi netted a famous hat-trick vs Arsenal

Incredibly, against the Gunners, Messi netted all four of the goals - it's one of the most memorable Champions League performances of all time.

But when it comes to scoring hat-tricks in the latter stages of the competition, Ronaldo is king. 

He's scored a hat-trick on four occasions, which quite frankly, is ridiculous. When the pressure is on, there's no one better than CR7 to have in your ranks. 

Ronaldo is unmatched in the knockouts

Juventus will be hoping for another Ronaldo miracle in the Champions League on Friday night. 

Four and out

It's also interesting to see which players have managed to hit four goals in a single knockout game.

That's happened five times. Most recently, of course, it was Ilicic who netted four against Valencia. He joins Lewandowski, Gomez, Messi and Inzaghi in a rather exclusive club. 

Lewa has scored four in one game

Will anyone else be able to join that list when the Champions League returns? Who knows. 

But we will, at least, be hoping for a few more hat-tricks later this month! 

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