Tuesday 12 December 2017

Calhanoglu goal eases pressure on Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen 1 Atletico Madrid 0

Bayer Leverkusen's Hakan Calhanoglu (C) scores a goal past Atletico Madrid's goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya (L) during their Champions League round of 16, first leg soccer match in Leverkusen February 25, 2015. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Bayer Leverkusen's Hakan Calhanoglu (C) scores a goal past Atletico Madrid's goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya (L) during their Champions League round of 16, first leg soccer match in Leverkusen February 25, 2015. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Bayer Leverkusen's Lars Bender collides with Atletico Madrid's Raul Garcia during their Champions League round of 16, first leg soccer match in Leverkusen.

Hakan Calhanoglu believes his goal for Bayer Leverkusen in their 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid will do wonders for the team after a rocky start to the year.

The 21-year-old Turkey international rifled home on 57 minutes to give the Germans a slight advantage for the round of 16 return leg next month and provide much-needed confidence.

Leverkusen, who claimed their first ever victory at this stage of the competition, have won only one of their five league games this year and have slipped to sixth in the Bundesliga.

Their attacking game looked to have deserted them in recent weeks but on Wednesday, against last season's Champions League runners-up, there was only one team pouring forward.

"I put everything I had, all my power into this shot, all the pressure from the last few games," Calhanoglu told reporters.

"It was a bit of a liberation for me. It is great for the team. But we still have to do the same in Spain."

Calhanoglu and his team mates produced their best performance this year at just the right time as they look to book a spot in the last eight while battling criticism at home.

"In all Champions League games this season we have showed we can play well. We showed it today again," said Calhanoglu, who joined from Hamburg SV this season. "We were the better team and deserved to win."

Coach Roger Schmidt breathed a sigh of relief.

"We looked forward to this game and we saw it as our path to the quarter-finals," he said.

"I don't want to single out any player but Hakan's goal was just amazing. We needed such a result after these weeks," Schmidt added.

Reuters

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