It's A Hattrick But It's Pointless! Hmm...

Gareth Bale may have claimed the match ball with his hat-trick for Tottenham but his side's 4-3 Champions League defeat to Inter made his treble somewhat pointless. The attacking left-sided defender/midfielder Welshman almost rescued an unlikely draw for the Londoners following a first-half that will sell well on DVD at the Emirates. But it all counted for nothing. Bale's heroics simply clawed back goal difference which may help especially as Twente and Werder Bremen only managed a draw to leave Spurs still in with a great chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

The 21-year-old, however, has joined an elite club - players to score hat-tricks and end up on the losing side. It may be a regular thing in non-league football. Although it's rare in the pro game but it's not as rare as you might think.

Denis Law (Manchester United v Leicester April 1963)

Back in the days when men were men and black and white football was played on mud, Manchester United finished 19th in the top flight, missing relegation by just two places. Even Matt Busby's stars could have an off season as this one proved and Denis Law's hat-trick for United at Filbert Street - 24 hours after the sides had drawn 2-2 at Old Trafford - was in vain as Leicester won 4-3. Law also scored six times for Manchester City in an FA Cup tie at Luton in 1961 but the game was called off with his side 6-2 up with 20 minutes to go because of heavy rain. Law also scored when the teams met again but City lost 3-1 so the Scot can claim to have scored seven goals in a tie and still ended up on the losing side.

Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn v Wigan December  2007)

The match of two hat-tricks. Marcus Bent's for the Latics meant three Premier League points but Roque Santa Cruz's meant his only claim to fame is making this list. To make matters worse for Rovers, Santa Cruz drew his side level after they had trailed 3-0 and then had a player sent off. To make matters even worse for Santa Cruz he attracted the attention of Manchester City where he now spends his days remembering this match with fondness.

Ferenc Puskas (Real Madrid v Benfica May 1962)


A European Cup final packed with goals and a vain three-strike from one of the game's true greats. Puskas, the 'little fat man' who had helped destroy England nine years earlier at Wembley,  could not inspire Real to the ultimate club prize in Amsterdam  on this occasion though. He was outflanked by a certain Eusebio who netted twice for Benfica.

Milinko Pantic (Atletico Madrid v Barcelona 1997)

In the Spanish Cup semi-finals, Atletico Madrid were not so delighted with their 2-2 first leg home draw. But when they stormed into a 3-0 first-half lead in the return leg at the Nou Camp, a place in the final was as good as theirs...at least that's what Milinko Pantic thought until a certain Brazilian Ronaldo (yes him again) and manager Bobby Robson started to weave their magic.

Christian Vieri (Atletico Madrid v Salamanca 1998)


Italy hit-man Christian Vieri netted 24 goals in 24 games for Atletico but was an unhappy man after this La Liga defeat to Salamanca. He scored all four goals in a 5-4 defeat. In fact, so furious was the great man that he allegedly changed in the corridor, refused to speak to his team-mates and left on his own.

Kerry Dixon (Reading v Doncaster 1982)


Big Kerry Dixon was on his way to bigger and better things with Chelsea and England but he made his name as a goal machine with the Royals. However, the coach trip back to Berkshire would have been a quiet one - even with Dixon having netted four times - after a stunning 7-5 defeat at Belle Vue.

Ronaldo (Real Madrid v Manchester United April 2003)

The original Ronaldo (the sleek-ish Brazilian model) ran riot at Old Trafford in a thrilling quarter-final second leg 4-3 defeat. True his treble was not without merit - it helped Real Madrid clinch a 6-5 aggregate win - but he still ended up on the losing side. Mind you he looked a great deal happier than David Beckham who came on as sub and scored twice for United but still ended up a loser.

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