Soccer

Ex-West Ham ace Haller scores four for Ajax months after registration gaffe

Former West Ham United striker Sebastian Haller zoomed to the top of the Champions League scoring charts after netting four goals for Ajax in their 5-1 rout of Sporting Lisbon.

The 27-year-old has hit the ground running in Europe this season, making up for lost time after the Dutch giants failed to register him for their Europa League knockout squad last term.

Ajax signed Haller for £20million from West Ham last January and had planned for him to be an integral part of their bid to win the continent's second-tier European competition.

But those plans were thrown into disarray once it became apparent that the club had failed to register the former Hammers striker due to an administrative error.

Haller was forced to watch on as Ajax progressed against Lille and Young Boys before succumbing to AS Roma at the quarter-final stage of the competition.

Speaking at the time, boss Erik ten Hag said: "It is of course incredibly annoying. Firstly for the player, but also for us. Of course we didn’t sign him for nothing.

"Haller was indeed on the list, but it is an administrative error. Something went wrong with the computers, just a check mark on and off.

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"In the first instance [the technical director] Marc Overmars and I are responsible. Of course, people make mistakes, but this is a top sports organisation. This mistake should never have happened.

"Haller is of course also very disappointed. Although he also understands that this was not done on purpose."

Ajax completed all the necessary registration requirements this time around, and Haller repaid the faith shown in him following his move from West Ham with a four-goal haul against Sporting.

The French forward opened his account after just 68 seconds, heading home after Adan's deflected shot cannoned back off the post.

He then doubled his tally seven minutes later, tapping home Antony's pinpoint cross from close range.

Haller had to wait until the 51st minute to complete his hat-trick, once again prodding in following good work from Antony before adding his fourth not long after.

The victory ensured Ajax of top spot in Group C, edging them above Borussia Dortmund who beat Besiktas 2-1 earlier on Wednesday evening.

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