Thursday September 24 2020
Pioli praised 'exceptional' Calhanoglu

Milan coach Stefano Pioli praised ‘generous and exceptional’ Hakan Calhanoglu after the 3-2 win against Bodo/Glimt and highlighted Lorenzo Colombo’s ‘attitude’ after the 18-year-old scored in his first start for the Rossoneri.

Calhanoglu bagged a brace to help Milan turn the match and through to the next qualifying round of the Europa League.

“A lot of the credit goes to him, he’s a generous player with high quality, he works for the team,” Pioli told DAZN.

“It’s difficult to always expect two goals but I expect this type of performance. He’s an exceptional guy, he has the qualities to become the protagonist.”

The 18-year-old Colombo was thrown into the starting line-up when Zlatan Ibrahimovic received a positive result on the swab tests for coronavirus, but the youngster grabbed the opportunity.

Colombo became the youngest goalscorer since M’baye Niang scored against Reggina in the Coppa Italia in 2012.

“He was certainly very excited, and it showed,” Pioli said. “That’s a good thing, he’s an 18 year old boy who is called into action right before kick-off.

“He had responsibilities. He’s a great guy with his head on his shoulders, the will to work hard. It’s not obvious to find young people with this attitude, he knows he must work hard to improve.

“I’m very happy that he was ready and scored, like he did in the pre-season matches.”

Now Rio Ave await in the play-offs, as the Portuguese side sent Besiktas out of the tournament.

“It’s an evidence that all matches are difficult. We knew it was going to be challenging today, we had seven important players missing.

“Now, we focus on the match on Sunday and then on the play-off. It’s another target.”