LONDON: Salzburg striker Erling Braut Haaland became the third-youngest player to score a Champions League hat-trick as the Austrian champions romped to a stunning 6-2 win over Genk on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old took his incredible tally to 17 goals in nine appearances for Salzburg this season.
Only Real Madrid great Raul (18 years and 113 days) and former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney (18 years and 340 days) have scored trebles in the Champions League while younger than Haaland (19 years and 58 days).
He is also the first player to score more than once on his Champions League debut since Rooney’s hat-trick for United against Fenerbahce in 2004.
Haaland is setting his sights high for the campaign, turning to last season’s surprise semi-finalists Ajax for inspiration.
“Everything is possible. We all saw Ajax last year, it would be nice to be the new Ajax,” the Norwegian told uefa.com.
“But we know there are a lot of good teams. It’s hard, but everything is possible.”
It was Salzburg’s first Champions League group-stage match since a 1-0 loss to AC Milan under their former guise of Casino Salzburg in December 1994.
“Haaland is a great player, but even more (important) for me is that he’s a great young man,” Salzburg’s American coach Jesse Marsch said.
“He shows up every day, he works hard and takes nothing for granted…
“We’re really lucky to have him here and if we can keep him fit, he’s only going to get better.”
Haaland, the son of former Leeds and Manchester City defender Alf-Inge Haaland, has already made his senior Norway international debut and scored nine goals in an Under-20 World Cup match against Honduras in May.
Haaland slotted the hosts in front inside two minutes, before doubling his tally in the 34th minute after racing clean through on goal.
Hwang Hee-chan made it three shortly afterwards, and after Jhon Lucumi pulled one back for Genk, Haaland completed his hat-trick in the 45th minute.
There was still time in a crazy first half for 18-year-old Hungarian Dominik Szoboszlai to put Salzburg 5-1 ahead.
Mbwana Samatta’s header gave Genk a glimmer of hope just seven minutes into the second period, but Andreas Ulmer rounded off a memorable night for Salzburg.
The victory sends Salzburg to the top of the early Group E standings ahead of Napoli, who beat holders Liverpool 2-0 in Naples.