Rooney heads list of Champions League knockout goal kings

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Football News

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is the ultimate Champions League knockout king, having scored the highest percentage of elite club competition goals at the business end of the tournament.

The 27-year-old has scored 14 of his 27 goals after the group stage, which represents an unrivalled 52 per cent of strikes in the last-16 and beyond.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi ranks second with 46 per cent, while Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo completes the top three, with 45 per cent of his Champions League goals coming in the knockout stages.

After bursting onto the European scene, with a hat-trick on his Champions League debut against Turkish giants Fenerbahce in September 2004, Rooney was forced to wait nearly three years before scoring his first knockout goal for Manchester United, in April 2007.

His strike in the 2-1 quarter-final first leg defeat, against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, was soon added to in the return encounter at Old Trafford, as Sir Alex Ferguson's side romped to an emphatic 7-1 victory, going through to the last-four, 8-3 on aggregate.

Despite notching two more against AC Milan in the semi-finals, Rooney and United crashed out of the competition 5-3 on aggregate. A 3-2 home win in the first leg gave the Premier League side a slim advantage, but after losing 3-0 at the San Siro their European dream was over for another year.

The following season Rooney scored again in Italy - in a quarter-final first leg 2-0 victory - as Manchester United eased past Roma, and went on to beat Barcelona in the semi-finals, and lift the trophy at the expense of Chelsea in Moscow in May 2008.

Rooney's individual high point perhaps came in 2010, though, when his four goals against AC Milan personally destroyed the Serie A giants, while his Champions League final strike against Barcelona in the same campaign, lost its shine because of the 3-1 defeat at Wembley.

Manchester United's shock group stage exit last season means that Rooney's Wembley goal was his last Champions League strike in the knockout stages, and he'll be hoping to add to his impressive record when he locks horns with Real Madrid for the first time in his career on Wednesday night.

In terms of total Champions League goals, Rooney remains some way behind Messi and Ronaldo, with the four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner having scored 56 times, and the Portuguese forward recording 44 goals of his own.

Other players that have bettered the Manchester United star's overall tally, are Chelsea's European Cup-winning hero Didier Drogba (39 goals) and Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic (30 goals). However, with only 33 per cent and 13 per cent of their respective strikes coming in the knockout stages, it's fair to say that Rooney's goal return in the competition has proved to be far more valuable.

Robin van Persie completes the top six, with five of his 21 Champions League goals coming after the group stages - equating to 24 per cent - which could prove to be decisive in Manchester United's bid to beat Real Madrid en route to European glory this year.

For a full breakdown of the Champions League's knockout kings, see below - with all stats provided by French newspaper L'Equipe.

6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - 30 goals (4 knockout) = 13%

5. Robin van Persie - 21 goals (5 knockout) = 24%

4. Didier Drogba - 39 goals (13 knockout) = 33%

3. Cristiano Ronaldo - 44 goals (20 knockout) = 45%

2. Lionel Messi - 56 goals (26 knockout) = 46%

1. Wayne Rooney - 27 goals (14 knockout) = 52%

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UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney

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