Calhanoglu rescues AC Milan in Coppa Italia quarters
Hakan Calhanoglu struggled mightily in the first half of the season, but as AC Milan appears to be picking up the pieces, the 25-year-old Turkish international appears to be front-and-center of the turnaround.
That was on display in the 4-2 Coppa Italia quarterfinal victory over Torino where Calhanoglu proved the hero, scoring the 91st minute equalizer to send the game to extra time before bagging the 106th minute winner.
Facing a 2-1 deficit and an embarrassing result that would undo an otherwise completely unblemished January slate, Calhanoglu came off the bench in the 82nd minute looking to provide a spark. In stoppage time, he took a cutback from Samu Castillejo to the top of the box and rifled in a deflected effort in stoppage time to prolong the match. Then, in extra time, the former Bayer Leverkusen man was on hand to deliver a fabulous finish on the break from a tight angle, finding the back of the net off the fingertips of Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu who very nearly produced a stunning acrobatic save diving to his left.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic then finished off the game two minutes later, poking home an excellent short-range layoff from substitute Rafael Leao.
While his production in front of net has dipped severely this season, Calhanoglu has still been at the heart of AC Milan’s winter turnaround. His WhoScored ratings have increased sharply since earning consistent scores below a six through September and October, and as a result AC Milan has lost just once in Serie A play since mid-November. The club has risen to eighth in the table, a sharp turnaround from its time spent between 10th and 12th for much of the last three months.