Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg made it nine wins in nine games under American coach Jesse Marsch when it crushed Belgian champion Genk, 6-2, in its opening game in the UEFA Champions
The match was the first an American has ever coached in the
Champions League and Salzburg's first in the group stage of the Champions League in a quarter century and the first time since Austrian-based purchased the club in 2005.
dominated Austrian soccer, winning eight of the last 10 league titles, but each year it failed to advance through qualifying. Its break came this year when Austria's coefficient was high enough --
thanks to Salzburg's success in the last two Europa Leagues -- that it received an automatic berth in the Champions League's group stage.
Salzburg has rolled to eight straight wins in
eight domestic matches to start the season -- seven in the Bundesliga by a margin of 34-6 and one by the score of 7-0 in the Austrian Cup.
But in a group with defending champion Liverpool
-- featuring former Salzburg players Sadio Mane and Naby Keita -- and Napoli -- which opened on Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Liverpool -- -- Marsch termed the opening game of the
Champions League against Genk a must-win game.
And Salzburg didn't disappoint, getting a hat trick from Norwegian teenager Erling Braut Haaland in a first half during which it
build up a 5-1 advantage.
“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I
wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality, though, as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two
Haaland's hat trick gave him 17 goals in nine games this season and made him the third youngest player to ever score three goals in a Champions League game.
Part of the Red Bull network of clubs that includes RB Leipzig and MLS's New York Red Bulls, Salzburg has developed a reputation as one of Europe's best clubs at recruiting young talent. Marsch's
multi-national lineup included players from Austria, Brazil, Denmark, France, Hungary, Japan and South Korea in addition to Haaland, who scored nine goals for Norway against Honduras in the 2019 U-20
"It is an absolute joy to work with this team," he said. "We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch
on nights like tonight.