Liverpool took themselves to the brink of qualifying for the Champions League knockout phase in emphatic fashion on Wednesday by thrashing Rangers 7-1 at Ibrox, where Mohamed Salah was afforded the freedom of Glasgow.
Bouncing back from a deflating defeat against Arsenal in the Premier League last weekend, the Reds powered to a statement victory thanks in no small part to a spectacular hat trick from second-half substitute Salah.
With his side already 3-1 up and cruising, Salah replaced Darwin Nunez in the 68th minute and proceeded to rattle away three goals within the space of just six minutes and 12 seconds to become the scorer of the fastest hat trick in men's Champions League history.
Harvey Elliott went on to complete the 7-goal rout for Liverpool but the night undoubtedly belonged to Salah, who fired his way into the record books despite spending just 22 minutes on the pitch in total.
There is finally a new name at the top of the all-time list of fastest Champions League hat trick scorers for the first time in 11 years, and the top 10 includes some big stars and a few surprise names.
10. Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich vs Lille, Nov. 7, 2012) 15 mins
🇵🇪 ¡El mítico 𝐂𝐥𝐚𝐮𝐝𝐢𝐨 𝐏𝐢𝐳𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐨 cumple 4⃣2⃣ años! 🎂— Liga de Campeones (@LigadeCampeones) October 3, 2020
🏆 Champions League 2013
Recordamos su 'hat-trick' contra el LOSC Lille esa temporada 🤩#HBD | #UCL | @pizarrinha | @FCBayernES pic.twitter.com/sZL1AstZ7u
After coming flying out of the traps, Bayern scored five goals before the break as they romped to a resounding 6-1 victory over Lille in the 2012-13 group stage. Bastian Schweinsteiger has already put the Bavarians ahead when Pizarro scored his first goal of the half in the 18th minute. The Peru international then added his second and third in the space of 15 minutes, and all before the half-time whistle. At the time it was the fourth-fastest Champions League hat trick ever scored, but plenty of water -- and goals -- have flowed beneath the bridge since then.
Neymar hit three goals in less than a quarter of an hour either side of half-time in a 6-1 win over Celtic in 2013 for Barcelona -- the first of which constituting the Brazilian star's first-ever goal in the Champions League.
8. Luiz Adriano (BATE Borisov 0-7 Shakhtar Donetsk, Oct. 21, 2014) 12 mins
The Shakhtar striker actually scored five goals in a 7-0 win at BATE Borisov in 2014, which is the joint-most ever scored by an individual player in a single Champions League match. It just so happens that the first three goals came only 12 minutes apart, making them the fourth-fastest hat trick ever scored in the competition at the time, too.
7. Robert Lewandowski (Crvena Zvezda 0-6 Bayern Munich, Nov. 26, 2019) 12 mins
Lewandowski took 12 minutes to score three goals against Red Star in a group stage walkover for Bayern in 2019. The prolific Polish poacher eventually ended with four goals in 14 minutes on the night and 15 for the tournament, which ended with him as top scorer and Bayern as European champions.
6. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich 7-1 Salzburg, March 8, 2022) 11 mins
After mustering a grand total of zero shots on target in the first leg of the round of 16 meeting, Lewandowski addressed the situation by taking just 11 minutes to score three goals against Salzburg inside the first 23 minutes of the second. The Bayern striker opened with two almost back-to-back penalties (12th and 21st minute) before capitalising on a fortunate ricochet to notch his third.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid 8-0 Malmo, Dec. 8, 2015) 11 mins
Ronaldo has scored eight hat tricks in the Champions League (a joint-record he shares with -- who else? -- Lionel Messi) and the fastest of them was his fourth. His 11-minute treble came as part of a four-goal glut in Real Madrid's obliteration of Swedish makeweights Malmo in 2015. The specific hat trick in question straddled the half-time break, with the Portuguese superstar kicking off his barrage with a torpedo free kick in the 39th minute before adding two more goals in the 47th and 50th minutes.
4. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City 5-1 Atalanta, Oct. 22, 2019) 11 mins
Before Salah, Sterling was the most recent addition to the list having taken 11 minutes to score three goals for Man City in their spanking of Atalanta at the Etihad. City actually fell behind to an early penalty but a second-half treble from in-form winger Sterling (his 12th, 13th and 14th goals in his past 17 Champions League games at that point) sealed a commanding comeback win for Pep Guardiola's side.
3. Mike Newell (Blackburn Rovers 4-1 Rosenborg, Dec. 6, 1995) 9 mins
Blackburn striker Newell needed just nine minutes to score a "perfect" hat trick (left foot, right root, header) in a win against Rosenborg at Ewood Park. It was the high point of a miserable campaign for the reigning Premier League champions, who finished bottom of their group and had two of their players -- David Batty and Graeme Le Saux -- fighting each other on the pitch during a 3-0 loss at Spartak Moscow.
2. Bafetimbi Gomis (Dinamo Zagreb 1-7 Lyon, Dec. 7, 2011), 8 mins
Gomis had previously held what looked to be an unassailable record since 2011 when he took just eight minutes to score three quarters of his four-goal haul in Lyon's drubbing of Dinamo Zagreb during the Champions League group stage.
1. Mohamed Salah (Rangers 1-7 Liverpool, Oct. 12, 2022), 7 mins
Salah's ludicrous three-goal cameo against Rangers not only saw the Liverpool forward break the record for the fastest Champions League hat trick, but at just 22 minutes it also saw him set a record for the fewest total minutes spent on the pitch by a substitute to score three goals -- a wordy record, but impressive nonetheless. Joining the likes of Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and former Reds strike partner Sadio Mane, Salah is now also the eighth African-born player to score a hat trick in the Champions League.