Atalanta 1-2 PSG: Kylian Mbappe inspires as PSG knock Atalanta out of Champions League with a stunning comeback with goals from Marquinhos and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
(African Stand) — A stunning late comeback from Paris Saint-Germain spared Neymar’s blushes as PSG fought from a goal down to score twice late on and beat Atalanta in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Marquinhos and Eric Choupo-Moting struck in stoppage time to send PSG into the semi-finals of the competition.
Mario Pasalic‘s stunning strike in the first half looked to have been enough for Atalanta to hold on to the win after an early miss from Neymar.
But Marquinho’s scrappy finish put the game on course for extra-time before substitute Choupo-Moting tapped home from Kylian Mnappe‘s cross to break the Italian clubs’ hearts and seal a stunning win in Lisbon.
The coronavirus pandemic had forced Uefa to devise a solution to finish the competition and here it was: a mini-tournament of seven matches, only one-legged ties and all in the city of Lisbon.
And what better way to kick off the quarter-finals with Atalanta, the free-scoring neutrals’ favourite against PSG, boasting the competition’s best defence and aside from Lionel Messi, two of the best attackers in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Gian Piero Gasperini was without Josip Ilicic and so he decided to put Mario Pasalic in the front three alongside Papu Gomez and Duvan Zapata.
Mbappe was deemed only fit enough to start on the bench following his recovery from an ankle injury sustained in the French Cup final.
Certainly, with the tie being played at a neutral venue, anything could happen. Atalanta perhaps knew they may never get to this point again and were playing like it, pressing PSG in the early stages before Gomez shot straight at Keylor Navas.
The French giants had the first chance to go ahead though and only Neymar will know how he didn’t score, bursting clear of Rafael Toloi to only to sidefoot past Marco Sportiello – and the post – when one-on-one.
Navas was forced into a smart stop next to deny Hans Hateboer as the game began to spark into life, with Atalanta taking the game to their opponents.
Just as PSG had appeared to have settled in the match, the Orobici took the lead – and in some style too. Remo Freuler passed into the feet of Zapata and with some good fortune, he got past Presnel Kimpembe. The loose ball fell to Pasalic, who curled it first time past Navas into the far corner. It was a brilliant finish and one entirely worthy of opening the scoring in this mini-tournament.
Neymar almost took it upon himself to try to get PSG back in it and therefore only had himself to blame when he spurned another golden chance. Hateboer’s pass back to Sportiello was misguided but somehow, the Brazilian forward – usually so composed in front of goal – blazed wide.
After the break, Thomas Tuchel waited to see if his side could equalise before turning to Mbappe. But despite some bright moments, it was evident the 21-year-old would be summoned on the hour mark.
Almost like a thermometer, PSG turned up the heat and began to peg Atalanta back into their own half, with Gasperini switching to a back five reacting to Mbappe’s entry.
A flurry of yellow cards disrupted the flow of the game and that appeared to favour Atalanta. But Mbappe’s pace was starting to cause problems at the back and only a fine block from Jose Palomino denied the French forward what would have surely been the equaliser.
PSG threw bodies forward as a frustrated Tuchel limped around the technical area. And finally, their pressure paid off. Substitute Eric Choupo-Moting clipped a ball to the far post, Neymar struck it into the box and Marquinhos stabbed home.
But there was still time for more drama as Mbappe supplied the cross to Choupo-Moting and he simply could not miss, striking home from six yards to crush the dreams of the Bergamo club. A sensational effort from the Italians, but it just wasn’t enough to see off PSG.