Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann backed Robert Lewandowski to continue to be the world’s best forward as he highlighted the milestone man’s longevity following his Champions League hat-trick.
Lewandowski marked his 100th Champions League appearance with a hat-trick as Bayern eased past Benfica 5-2 to seal their last-16 progress in Group E action on Tuesday.
The Ballon d’Or contender became the sixth player to score on his 100th appearance in the Champions League, after Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrea Pirlo and Toni Kroos, while the Poland captain is the first player to score more than once in the milestone game.
Lewandowski also celebrated his fourth Champions League hat-trick – the third-most in Europe’s premier club tournament after Ronaldo and Lionel Messi (eight each). At 33 years and 73 days, he is the fourth-oldest hat-trick scorer after Olivier Giroud (34 years 63 days), Ronaldo and Claudio Pizarro (34 years 35 days).
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Nagelsmann showered Lewandowski in praise post-match, telling reporters: “Ninety-eight times involved, 81 goals in 100 Champions League games. Something new?
“Today most of the people talk about his three goals. Or many people write about his three goals. But you have to see his joy to play in the last 30 minutes. He played every offensive position, wanted to have every ball. He started good attacks.”
When asked to compare Lewandowski to superstar pair Ronaldo and Messi, Nagelsmann added: “I think it’s very difficult to compare because they are different types of players. I don’t know the character of the other two, I also only know them out of the TV, as do you, I guess. I think all three were very impressive players in the last years.
“[Lewandowski] I also know as a person. He is a very nice guy which whom it’s very nice to work with. I heard that also about the other two guys when I talked about them with their former coaches. I believe that Lewy can achieve a lot, also at a high age, because of his physique and his lifestyle and the way he lives as a footballer.
“He will continue to be the best forward in the world because he does everything to keep it that way.”
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