PSG Crushes Atalanta's Champions League Dream With Late Goals
Paris Saint-Germain troops to the Champions League semis for the first time in 25 years after staging a Cinderella win against Atalanta.
For most of the evening, Mario Pasalic’s goal in the first half appeared to be everything Atalanta needed to deal another heartbreak for PSG on European club football’s largest stage.
The Guardian reports that it took 90 minutes and at least £400M worth of talent for Thomas Tuchel’s boys to turn things around.
First, Marquinhos equalized the game at injury time. Then, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, off the bench as a 79th-minute reinforcement, slid the winner less than 150 seconds after.
It was over before Atalanta could score for extra time, and Gian Piero Gasperini’s henchmen were crestfallen at the whistle.
No Plans Of Going Home
Two extraordinary misses was apparently not enough to send Neymar packing. The PSG forward may have shanked two gilt-edge chances before the half, but the thought of giving up never once crossed his mind.
“I never thought of going home.” he told the BBC. “From the warm-up to the end, we believed in it. We never gave up. No one will take this desire to go to the final away from me.”
Tuchel may have had a little less faith, but he was rewarded just the same.
“I thought about elimination, after 88 minutes at 1-0, I am realistic. But I didn’t have the feeling that we weren’t going to score,” he said. “After this match, these efforts are absolutely deserved.”
Neymar, Mbappé Delivering The Goods
They may not have gotten their names on the scoreboard, but ask anyone who has seen the game -- and they will tell it was Neymar and Mbappé who delivered the win.
Kylian Mbappé was deployed in the second half after starting on the bench with an injury. Cold legs and all, CNN notes that his impact was instantaneous. The French sensation injected speed at a time when Atalanta’s men were shaking off their quivering limbs.
Along with Man of the Match Neymar, he showed late-night brilliance to swing things to their side, for a chance to take PSG all the way to the final. They now have to battle it out with either RB Leipzig or Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
As long as Neymar and Mbappé played the way they did against Gasperini’s side, they have a pretty good look at that title.
Even the Atalanta boss seems to think so.
“We came very close, it was very close. It looked as if we could do it, pull off a great achievement. Mbappé coming into the game, combined with the presence of Neymar, changed things for PSG. He gave an energy to PSG, who were losing the match -- it was fundamental because of what he brought to the game.”