Paris Saint-Germain are onto the Champions League semifinal after a dramatic late winner against the Cinderella story of the competition, Atalanta. The Parisians were down 1-0 until the 90th minute, but scored two injury time goals to keep their Champions League campaign alive in this one-off match. The 2-1 win paved way for their first trip to the Champions League semifinal in 25 years.
All eyes were on PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, who entered in the second half after being unable to start due to and ankle injury, and his presence was certainly felt, as he directly assisted in the winning goal. Neymar, despite missing a slew of chances, was also able to get the offense going, even after going down early. They will now face the winner of RB Leipzig vs. Atletico Madrid in the next round.
The dramatic victory starts and ends with the substitution of Kylian Mbappe. The French forward — whose ankle injury was supposed to keep him out of this match — was fit enough to make it onto the bench for his squad and get substituted in around the 60-minute mark. From the moment he stepped onto the pitch, it was clear Atalanta had no chance at stopping him. Hans Hateboer was absolutely flummoxed every time the Frenchman got the ball as Mbappe didn’t need to do anything special to get past his man. His first touch on the ball proved that immediately as the defenders trying to stop the forward were immediately embarrassed while chasing him down the line. The presence turned into mounting pressure that Mbappe put on Atalanta’s defense, and eventually things broke down. Mbappe’s presence meant less attention was focused on Neymar when he clumsily set up the first goal for Marquinhos, and he directly assisted on the second, making the unselfish decision to pass to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for the winner — and his first goal in the Champions League this season.