Dusan Vlahovic made a red-hot start to his Champions League career by scoring his first goal less than a minute into his competition debut with Juventus on Tuesday.
Just 32 seconds had elapsed when the prolific Serbian striker opened the scoring for the Bianconeri in their round-of-16 first leg against Villarreal at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
After scoring 49 goals in 108 games for Fiorentina, the 22-year-old was signed by Juve in a €70 million transfer last month. He then began to repay the faith immediately with a goal on his debut, taking 13 minutes to get off the mark in a 2-0 victory over Hellas Verona.
With his only previous experience of continental football being a single appearance as a teenager for Partizan Belgrade in a 2016-17 Europa League qualifier, Vlahovic hit the ground running in the Champions League when he controlled a long ball forward on his chest with his first touch and then fired his right-footed low strike into the far corner with his second.
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With that, Vlahovic broke new ground by becoming the scorer of the fastest debut goal in Champions League history, as well as the earliest goal scored in the knockout phase of the competition since David Alaba took 24 seconds to find the net from range in Bayern Munich’s 2-0 quarterfinal first leg against Juve in 2012-13.
The overall record for the fastest goal ever scored in the Champions League is still held by Roy Makaay, who let just 10.12 seconds elapse before putting Bayern ahead against Real Madrid in their 2006-07 round-of-16 tie.
At the age of 22 years and 25 days, Vlahovic is the second youngest Juventus player to score on their Champions League debut, behind club legend Alessandro Del Piero (20 years, 308 days). And, though the Serbian hot-shot cam close to surpassing him, Del Piero is also still the scorer of Juve’s fastest ever goal in the Champions League thanks to his 20-second special against Manchester United in 1997.
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Alas, Villarreal rallied to peg Juve back in the 66th minute as Dani Parejo volleyed home a close-range equalizer to earn a 1-1 draw.
« It’s great to score on my debut, it was exciting to play my first match in the Champions League, » Vlahovic told Sky Sports Italia. « However, I’m not 100% happy because we didn’t win. The regret remains, but let’s look ahead with our heads held high.
« I’m trying to improve day after day while keeping my feet on the ground. »
While Vlahovic might be slightly disappointed at not being able to cap off his explosive Champions League debut with a victory, the dynamic young forward enjoyed a night to remember and left no doubt that he is one of the European game’s biggest rising stars.
Scoring a goal in less time than it takes to boil a kettle also earned Vlahovic entry into the pantheon of memorable Champions League debuts, but how does the Juve star’s maiden outing stack up against some of the competition’s other brilliant first-time performances?
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2019: When Erling Haaland became the first teenager since Wayne Rooney (2004) to score a hat-trick on his Champions League debut ⚽️⚽️⚽️@ErlingHaaland | @RedBullSalzburg | #UCL pic.twitter.com/RMpLI1o1qD
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) July 21, 2021
Haaland came roaring onto the Champions League scene with Salzburg, formally introducing himself on the big stage with a sizzling hat trick in a 6-2 trouncing of Genk in September 2019. Aged just 19 at the time, the Norwegian prodigy became the third-youngest player to score a Champions League hat trick after Real Madrid great Raul in 1995 and Wayne Rooney in 2004. After scoring eight goals in his first five Champions League appearances for Salzburg he joined Borussia Dortmund and promptly picked up where he left off by scoring twice on his European debut for the Germans, against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie.
Unsurprisingly, Salah is the only Egyptian player to score on his Champions League debut for two different clubs, having notched for both Basel and Liverpool on his first appearances in the competition respectively. Salah began his long Champions League journey with Basel in the 2013-14 group stage, grabbing an equalizer for the Swiss side in what proved to be a shock 2-1 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and his performance helped earn him a transfer to the Blues a few months later. He then followed up with a goal on his competition debut for Liverpool in their opening game of the 2017-18 group stages, finding the net with a heavily deflected 20-yard effort in a 2-2 draw against Sevilla at Anfield.
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After his goals helped power Wolfsburg to an against-all-odds Bundesliga title win in 2008-09, Grafite certainly made his mark during the German club’s first-ever Champions League appearance the following season. The Brazilian struck three times against CSKA Moscow as Wolfsburg kicked off their Group B campaign with a resounding win at the Volkswagen Arena. Unfortunately, things soon fell apart as the Wolves ultimately finished third in their group and missed out on qualification for the latter stages.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, 2004)
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) January 21, 2019
Rooney was at his wild and ravenous best when he made both his Manchester United and his Champions League debut as an 18-year-old in 2004. Fenerbahce were the unlucky fall guys that night as the wonderkind ran roughshod over United’s Turkish guests at Old Trafford, scoring a hat trick of goals from outside the area and laying on an assist in a rampant 6-2 home win.
🎁🎂 Faustino Asprilla 🎂🎁
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There were none more mercurial than Newcastle folk hero Asprilla, who was capable of achieving undisputed greatness on the right day. The Colombian’s defining moment in a black-and-white shirt came on his Champions League debut in 1997, when the gangly striker put Barcelona to the sword with a marvelous hat trick in a famous 3-2 win at St. James’ Park.
Bertrand’s Champions League debut hasn’t entered the hall of fame because of any stupendous goal or virtuoso hat trick. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to remember his performance at all. The Chelsea full-back is instead included by virtue of being the first player ever to make his competition debut in the final — against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in 2011-12. Bertrand, 23, at the time, was named in the XI essentially as a second left-back, in front of Ashley Cole, in order to combat the threat of Bayern star Arjen Robben. The Blues went on to lift the trophy after winning 4-3 on penalties, making Bertrand’s first-ever appearance in the tournament even more incredible. The defender, now at Leicester City, has only ever made four appearances in the Champions League, meaning he averages a trophy once every 214 minutes or so.