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Top 10 Greatest Hat-Tricks In Football History

Ronaldo de Lima vs. Manchester United (2003) top hattricks in football history
(Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images)

In football, a hat-trick is achieved when a player scores three goals (not necessarily consecutive) in a single game.

Only goals scored during regulation time (90 minutes, plus extra time, if required) are counted, but goals scored in a penalty shootout are excluded from the tally.

Did you know?

Scoring two goals in a single match is called a brace. In this article, TOP SOCCER BLOG selects the top 10 best hat-tricks in football history.

The criteria used for selecting these trebles is by rating the quality of the goals, the significance of the hat-tricks, and the quality of the opposition.

We also looked at the impact it made on that match/season/competition as well as the player’s career.

1. Geoff Hurst vs. Germany (1966)

Geoff Hurst vs. Germany (1966) top Hattricks in football history
30th July 1966: Geoff Hurst scores England’s third goal against West Germany in the World Cup final. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The “Wembley Miracle” is the proudest day in English football history as England won their first (and to date only) FIFA World Cup trophy by defeating Germany in the final at Wembley in 1966.

It was one of the greatest World Cup finals ever.

Geoff Hurst was the man at the centre of it all, as he amazingly scored a hat-trick.

His second strike — which bounced off the bar, down onto the line, and back onto the pitch — remains one of the most controversial goals in football history. 

However, many years later, after much scrutiny it was revealed that the goal did cross the line.

Hurst is the first — and still, the only — player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.

2. Ronaldo de Lima vs. Manchester United (2003)

Ronaldo de Lima vs. Manchester United (2003) top hattricks in football history
(Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Manchester United came up against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals in 2003.

United were defeated 3-1 by Madrid in the first leg, and the Red Devils were trying to secure a major comeback in the return leg at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo de Lima opened the scoring for Madrid, but Ruud van Nistelrooy brought United level before half-time.

However, Ronaldo scored two more goals to complete a memorable hat-trick in the second half.

He doubled his tally with an easy finish and completed his hat-trick by firing a venomous shot from the edge of the box.

So good was Ronaldo’s performance in that game that he received a standing ovation from the Manchester crowd when he was substituted in the 67th minute!

United eventually won the game 4-3 but were knocked out of the Champions League 6-5 on aggregate.

3. Lionel Messi vs. Real Madrid) (2007)

Lionel Messi has always been nothing short of a nightmare for Real Madrid.

Messi’s first-ever senior career hat-trick came against Madrid in 2006/07 at Camp Nou.

The then 19-year-old scored three equalisers against his team’s biggest-ever rivals in a 3-3 draw.

Three times Real took the lead in the match, and three times Messi hit back!!!

Moreso, Barca were reduced to 10 men for more than half of the match!

Lionel Messi is the only player in the 21st century to have scored a hat-trick in the El Clasico, and also the only player ever to have scored two Clasico hat-tricks.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Spain (2018)

Probably, Ronaldo’s best-ever performance in a Portuguese shirt.

It was against Spain at the 2018 FIFA World in Russia.

Spain boasted of star players in the likes of Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta, Gerrard Pique, Sergio Busquets, David de Gea, and of course, Diego Costa.

Cristiano Ronaldo was Portugal’s main man, and he proved more than enough for the Spaniards as he bagged a memorable treble.

Ronaldo began the night by converting a penalty in the 4th minute after Nacho fouled him in the box.

Spain equalised through a wonderful solo effort from Diego Costa, but Ronaldo soon made it 2-1.

Costa equalised again to make it 2-2, and Nacho redeemed himself for conceding the first-half penalty by drilling home a volley from the edge of the area. 3-2!

Spain looked on course to secure the win, but just two minutes from time, CR7 completed his hat-trick with a trademark swerving free-kick.

5. Wayne Rooney vs. Fenerbahce (2004)

 

Wayne Rooney joined Manchester United from Everton in a deal worth £27.5 million — a record fee for a player under 20 at the time.

But the young striker suffered a broken metatarsal injury at Euro 2004 — which prevented him from making his United debut for a month.

Finally, he made his debut in a Champions League match against Fenerbahce and couldn’t have dreamt of a better debut!

The 18-year-old got his United career off the mark emphatically.

He netted a hat-trick against the Turkish side to announce himself to the whole world.

Rooney would go on to become Manchester United and England’s record top scorer of all-time, as well as one of the best players of his generation.

6. Gareth Bale vs. Inter Milan (2010)

 

Gareth Bale announced himself on the big stage when he scored a hat-trick for Tottenham against Inter Milan in a UEFA Champions League encounter in 2010.

Though Tottenham Hotspur lost 4-3, Bale’s talent was obvious against a team that had stars like Samuel Eto’o, Javier Zanetti, Diego Milito, and Wesley Sneijder.

At half-time, Inter were leading 4-0, but Bale almost secured a historic comeback for Spurs by netting three goals.

The match ended 4-3, but it inspired Tottenham to win the home game courtesy of another Gareth Bale masterclass.

The Welshman announced himself to the world as a special talent with his mesmerising pace, power, and skills. He would go on to become one of the best wingers in football.

7. Rivaldo vs Valencia (2001)

 

Barcelona were on the verge of missing out on UEFA Champions League qualification in 2001 and came up against eventual league champions Valencia.

The Catalans needed a win at all costs.

Brazilian legend, Rivaldo, came to the rescue for Barca as he netted a stunning treble.

His first goal, scored after just 4 minutes, was an astonishing 30-yard free-kick.

The second saw Rivaldo leave the Valencia defence in a tangle with his feints before unleashing a long-range bullet.

But Ruben Baraja twice equalised for Valencia, leaving Barca in need of a saviour – and that’s just what Rivaldo did!

With just one minute remaining, the Brazilian exquisitely controlled a pass on his chest before leaping and firing an inch-perfect bicycle kick into the corner!!!

“It was a remarkable night,” Rivaldo later said in an interview with the Independent.

“It happened 18 years ago, but it still seems as though it was yesterday because every day or week, somebody talks about that game or asks me about it.

“It is a day that I will never forget. We needed to beat Valencia to qualify for the Champions League, and so it became even more special for that reason”.

8. José Luis Chilavert vs Ferro Carril Oeste (1999)

 

The goalkeeper that scored a hat-trick in football.

This hat-trick was scored by a goalkeeper. Yes, you read that right!

Furthermore, it is a truly remarkable feat considering the fact that all three goals were scored from direct free kicks!!!

Scoring isn’t exactly in the goalkeeper’s handbook. But José Chilavert never was one to play by the rules.

In fact, the Paraguayan free-kick expert hit 68 goals in his career.

9. Bert Patenaude vs. Paraguay (1930)

The first ever hat-trick in FIFA World Cup history.

Bert Patenaude scored the first-ever treble at the biggest football tournament in the world against Paraguay in 1930.

Patenaude scored the opening goal in the 10th minute. A second goal in the 15th and the third in the 50th minute to give USA a 3-0 win over their South American opponents.

The dispute and discrepancies over the second goal had led to confusion over the first-ever World Cup hat-trick, as Argentina’s Guillermo Stábile scored a hat-trick against Mexico just two days after the USA vs. Paraguay game.

However, FIFA announced in 2006 that Patenaude was the first player to score a hat-trick in World Cup play — confirming that he scored all three goals.

10. Márcio Richardes vs Vegalta Sendai (2010)

Why is this hat-trick special?

It was the “perfect dead-ball hat-trick”: a penalty, a free-kick, and a direct corner kick!

Not many footballers can boast of ever scoring from a direct corner kick.

But eagle-eyed Brazilian baller, Marcio Richardes, did so when he completed a dead-ball perfect hat-trick back in 2010 when he was playing for Albirex Niigata in the J-League.

First, he slotted home a penalty, and then he netted a curling free-kick that left the goalkeeper rooted to the spot before following it up with a sensational strike directly from an inswinging corner!!!

Notable Mentions

  • Mohamed Salah vs. Rangers (2022)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Sweden (2014)
  • Nwankwo Kanu vs. Chelsea (1999)
  • Dimitar Berbatov vs. Liverpool (2010)
  • Lionel Messi vs. Ecuador (2017)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Wolfsburg (2016)
  • Dennis Bergkamp vs. Leicester (1997)
  • Robbie Fowler vs. Arsenal (1994)
  • Sadio Mane vs. Aston Villa (2015).
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