Paris Saint-Germain needed a half-fit Kylian Mbappe to come off the bench and rescue their Champions League hopes as a late PSG double broke Atalanta hearts.
Sportiello; Toloi, Caldara, Djimsiti (Palomino, 59'); Hateboer, Freuler, De Roon, Gosens (Castagne, 82'); Pasalic (Muriel, 70'), Gómez (Malinovskyi, 59'); Zapata (Da Riva, 82').
Keylor Navas; Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat; Herrera (Draxler, 72'), Marquinhos, Gueye (Paredes, 72'); Sarabia (Mbappé, 59'), Icardi y Neymar.
1-0 M. 27 Pasalic. 1-1 M. 90 Marquinhos. 2-1 M. 90+2 Choupo-Moting.
Anthony Taylor (Inglaterra). T.A.: Djimsiti (37'), Freuler (45'), De Roon (50'), Zapata (53'), Toloi (67'), Palomino (85') / Bernat (55') y Herrera (57')
For long parts of the contest it had an eerily feeling of history repeating itself for the French powerhouses. Neymar was presented with three fantastic opportunities to put PSG ahead but, uncharacteristically for him, those chances were wasted. Was it a lack of composure or nerves getting to one of the best players in the world?
Those missed chances felt even more significant when Atalanta’s fairytale story continued as they took an unexpected lead. Fortune seemed to favour the Italian side as a quick-flowing move, with a few sloppy touches, still ended up at the feet of Mario Pasalic. He didn’t fluff his lines as his effort powered into the roof of the net.
Atalanta were growing in confidence but Neymar remained a constant threat. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, his mazy runs and quality passes weren’t reciprocated by his teammates. Sarabia and Icardi were well off the pace and it felt like it was Neymar versus Atalanta.
Tuchel needed to take risks in order to freshen up his forward line. Mbappe was only available for 30 minutes and, with 60 minutes on the clock, the French star was stripped and ready to come on.
Atalanta looked to slow the tie down with some cynical fouls. PSG responded in kind as frustration began to set in, but the Italians didn’t mind seeing the clock being run down. Draxler and Parades came on for Gueye and Herrera as Tuchel went for broke.
Parades sent Mbappe free but, like Neymar in the first half, his shot wasn’t good enough to beat Sportiello. Keylor Navas tried to stay on but was ultimately replaced by Sergio Rico as PSG were forced to use their last substitution break. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting came on for the disappointing Icardi with just 10 minutes left.
The match entered the 90th minute when Neymar got in behind the Atalanta defence. He crossed the ball for Marquinhos and his effort couldn’t be kept out by Caldera. PSG were level and Atalanta, after battling so hard to keep the most expensive forward line at bay, were dead on their feet. Extra time beckoned.
Or not. PSG sensed they had the legs on Atalanta and this ultimately proved to be the case. Neymar’s wonderful pass to Mbappe set the French striker away and facing down on goal. Instead of snatching at his effort, he instead played it across for Choupo-Moting to bundle home in the 93rd minute.
Heartbreak from Atalanta but PSG, with Neymar and Mbappe on the pitch, move onto the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in their history.