Calhanoglu Leads Ibra-Less Milan to Hard-Fought Win Over Bodo/Glimt


Milan needed a sumptuous Hakan Calhanoglu performance to overcome Bodo/Glimt of Norway in their Europa League Third Round Qualifiers on Thursday night. The Turk led the Rossoneri with two goals and one assist for 18-year-old Lorenzo Colombo as they pulled off a frantic 3-2 win and moved one step further towards the Europa League Group Stage.

The San Siro match was anything but a stroll in the park, however, as the tenacious Norwegian side took an unexpected lead and continued to pressure the Rossoneri until the very end – after managing to reduce their gap from 1-3 to 2-3.

Milan’s lack of condition became evident in the last part of the game as Bodo/Glimt – who already have 18 league games on their back – progressively put the home side to the ropes, failing a clear chance to equalize during stoppage time with Ulrik Saltnes.

Next stop for Milan will be a trip to Portugal as on October 1 they will face Rio Ave in the last Play-Off round. The Portuguese unexpectedly eliminated Besiktas on penalties.

The day started with some unexpected news for the Rossoneri as Zlatan Ibrahimovic tested positive to the coronavirus. A bad news for Milan, or for the virus, depending on how you see it. Ibra’s forced absence, however, delivered a golden chance to youth academy prospect Lorenzo Colombo, who won a spot in Stefano Pioli’s starting XI for the first time at just 18.

The young lad would not disappoint as he became they youngest player to have ever scored for the Rossoneri in a European competition as he netted the second goal of the night for his side in the 32nd minute.

Milan’s win has the face of 18-year-old Lorenzo Colombo, who celebrated his senior debut as a starter with an important goal

Before that, however, Milan had to face a challenging start as the Norwegians – who are unbeaten in their domestic Eliteserien with 16 wins out of 18 games – put themselves in the driving seat with Danish striker Kasper Junker, well served from the left by Jens Petter Hauge – keep this name in mind as we will meet him again.

The lead for Bodo/Glimt , however, lasted only one minute as Hakan Calhanoglu immediately leveled off for Milan. The home side number 10 received a pass by Ismael Bennacer and conjured an out-of-the-box missile to score his 9th goal since the post-COVID-19 restart in June. He must be the only person in the world that for some reason has benefited from the pandemic.

Calhanoglu had not had enough indeed: In the 32nd minute, from a Theo Hernandez suggestion, he served Lorenzo Colombo a golden back-heel pass – a service that the young striker only had to push into the net to become, at 18 years and 200 days, Milan’s youngest European goalscorer.

The Rossoneri seemed now in control and gave the impression they could wrap the game comfortably. Five minutes after the restart, it was Hakan Calhanoglu’s show again. This time, the Turk caught a corner kick suggestion from Samu Castillejo and pierced the Bodo/Glimt goal for the third-time with a perfectly-timed right-foot volley.

But right when the game seemed to be over, the Norwegians managed to keep it alive. Jens Petter Hauge came up with a stunning screamer from out of the box to reduce the gap just five minutes after Calhanoglu’s last goal.

From then on, Milan had to suffer. Stefano Pioli replaced Colombo with another youngster – figlio d’arte Daniel Maldini – and the young striker promptly found the back of the net only to be deemed offside. Alexis Saelemaekers also went close to make it four for Milan as he put the ball past the goalie with a fine chip, but defender Brede Moe came up with a super clearance right on the goal line.

In the latest stages of the game, as the difference in condition and stamina became evident, Bodo/Glimt took control of the operations. Gianluigi Donnarumma had to show his reflexes to deny a Ulrik Saltnes header. Then, the midfielder had his great chance during stoppage time as he was served a fine pass by Jens Petter Hauge again, but widely missed the target. He should have done better.

It ended as foreseeable, with Milan booking their ticket to the last Play-Off round, but the Rossoneri unexpectedly found themselves breathing a sigh of relief at full time.



September 24, 2020 – Europa League 2020-21 Third Preliminary Round

SCORERS: 15′ Junker (B), 16′ Calhanoglu (M), 32′ Colombo (M), 50′ Calhanoglu (M), 55′ Hauge (B)

MILAN (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Gabbia, Hernandez; Bennacer (79′ Tonali), Kessié; Castillejo (65′ Krunic), Calhanoglu, Saelemaekers; Colombo (57′ Maldini) (Tatarusanu, Kalulu, Laxalt, Brahim Diaz) Coach: Pioli
BODO/GLIMT (4-3-3): Haikin; Sampsted (82′ Solbakken), Moe, Lode, Bjorkan; Fet (64′ Konradsen), Berg, Saltnes; Zinckernagel, Junker (89′ Boniface), Hauge (Smits, Foosnaes, Hagen) Coach: Knutsen

REFEREE: Jovic (Croatia)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Konradsen (B); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 3′