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UCL: PSG break Atalanta hearts with two late goals to reach semi-finals



Paris Saint-Germain have been accused of mental fragility in this competition in the past, but they showed a never-say-die attitude to come back late in this quarter-final and reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 25 years.

Atalanta were the clear underdogs, but the free-scoring Italian side had the best of the first 45 minutes and justly led 1-0 at half-time thanks to Mario Pasalic’s sweet strike..

Neymar missed some gilt-edged chances, including a sitter after just two minutes, but if his shooting boots had gone missing, his approach play still caused continuous problems for the Italian side.

When he was joined after an hour by sub Kylian Mbappe, on his way back from injury, the French giants looked increasingly likely to equalise and, in truth, it was attack vs defence for most of the game’s final quarter.

However, it was a less-storied PSG player, Eric Choupo-Moting who made the difference. His precise ball into the area was played back across by Neymar, which caused a scramble that saw Marquinho bundle home on 90 minutes, although there was a suggestion that an Atalanta player got the last touch.

Neymar missed a sitter right at the start and was off target all night CREDIT: AP
But much worse was to come for the Italian side two and half minutes later: Neymar found Mbappe on the left, the Frenchman crossed and there was Choupo-Moting to tap it in for the stoppage time winner.

It was a painful collapse for Atalanta, ending an improbable journey in their debut Champions League campaign in a season when the team’s home city of Bergamo had been among the hardest hit regions of Europe from the coronavirus.

The pandemic meant the quarter-finals are not being played home and away as usual but as single games in neutral Lisbon.

In financial terms, it was a classic mismatch and those who feel that having five subs skews things even more in favour of the richer clubs with the deeper squads will find nothing to dissuade them: the quality off the bench ultimately made the difference.

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