Home FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PSG leave it late to break Atalanta hearts; Choupo-Moting bags an injury...

PSG leave it late to break Atalanta hearts; Choupo-Moting bags an injury time winner

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Atalanta’s fairytale run has come to an end, in perhaps the most heartbreaking way. PSG let themselves off the hook a bit too late, but they did manage to do so with a stellar attacking display on the day. Gasperini’s high-flying unit had their job cut out and got off to a strong start but parking the bus didn’t work quite well for them.

Atalanta were on the front foot straight away, with some crisp movement on the left gifting Papu Gomez a clear shot on target, but was denied by Keylor Navaz. Navaz was called into action regularly, with wing-back Hateboer surging into the box to meet headers on a regular basis. However, the chance of the first half was spilled by Neymar Jr., who was one-on-one with the keeper but dragged his shot horribly wide.

Papu Gomez and both Atalanta’s wingbacks proved to be a vital presence in the cog once again, creating chance after chance, making Thiago Silva, Kehrer, Bernat, and Kimpembe work their socks off. Their persistence paid off when a defensive mix-up laid a nice curling opportunity for Pasilic, and he did it with his left-foot quite brilliantly to put the Black and Blues ahead.

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PSG continued to play on the counters whilst Atalanta kept creating half-chances. Their aerial prowess once again was on the money, nearly every cross meeting a desired head and longballs chipped exactly in the paths of overlapping runners on either side. However, Toloi and Caldara never seemed to have been on a level to match up with Neymar’s skills, who managed to spill some golden chances.

Mbappe provides the vigor PSG needed

Kylian Mbappe made a miraculous recovery from an injury that was supposed to keep him out of this fixture. Thomas Tuchel didn’t want to start him and he came off the bench to prove his worth. Atalanta let themselves down by dropping back and defending their minor lead. Their defenders could barely cope with the skill, trickery and pace of Mbappe and Neymar and yet they continued sitting back.

Paris Saint-Germain lacked a finishing touch on the day, with a couple of left-footed strikes from Mbappe being the only ones making Sportiello work for his team. Neymar and Mbappe kept wiggling through for fun, leaving Atalanta defenders to pray for some error from the French champions in the final third. More often than not, they made that error, until the 90th minute of the game.

PSG’s substitutes proved to be pivotal in the end, and an aerial ball from Choupo-Moting found Neymar on the far past, who provided an inch-perfect pass for Marquinhos to tap home an equalizer. That goal was on its way for a while and for a moment people felt it was too late to avoid Extra time.

But that wasn’t to be the case as Kylian Mbappe read Neymar’s cheeky pass beautifully and allowed Choupo-Moting to score the winner from close range. The Cameroonian was with Stoke City when they got relegated from the English top division but made a stellar impression when it mattered, playing a role in both the goals scored.

This wasn’t the free-flowing, high-flying Atalanta people expected to turn up and their defensive mindset let them down right at the end. Their players were left in tears as Tuchel kept punching the air in delight despite having a broken leg. They will face the winner of the Leipzig-Atletico Madrid contest in the semifinals of the competition they’re so desperate to win.

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