Sports

Football: PSG produce late comeback to beat Atalanta and reach Champions League semi-finals

LISBON (AFP) – Paris Saint- Germain snatched a dramatic victory from the jaws of defeat as substitute Eric Choupo-Motings goal three minutes into added time allowed them to beat Atalanta 2-1 in their Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon on Wednesday (Aug 12).

Atalanta were on the brink of extending their remarkable run on into the last four after Mario Pasalic gave the Italians a 27th-minute lead in the first game of the Final Eight at an empty Estadio da Luz.

But PSG were rescued as Marquinhos came forward to scramble in a last-minute equaliser and they did not even need extra time to complete the turnaround, with Kylian Mbappe setting up fellow substitute Choupo-Moting to win the tie right at the end.

The French champions reward is a place in the semi-finals of Europes elite club competition for the first time since 1995. They will play RB Leipzig or Atletico Madrid next Tuesday for a place in the final.

It is the first time PSG have gone beyond the last eight of the Champions League since the Qatari takeover of the club almost a decade ago and all the huge investment that has followed.

The result is heartbreaking for Atalanta, who were hoping to continue their fairytale campaign for at least a few more days and give the people of Bergamo more reason to cheer.

The northern Italian city suffered terribly at the height of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year. Bergamos death toll from Covid-19 has made it one of the worst-hit regions anywhere during the health crisis.

However, this will still go down as a highly successful season for Gian Piero Gasperinis team, who scored eight goals over two legs to beat Valencia in the last 16 in March.

That tie was completed just before football across Europe ground to a halt in the face of the pandemic, but Atalanta have since come back to finish third in Serie A for the second year running, scoring 98 goals in the process.

Beating PSG was ultimately a step too far, but that Atalanta came so close is remarkable enough. After all, their annual wage bill is believed to be equivalent to what PSG pay Neymar alone.

It was because of the pandemic that UEFA decided to bring the Champions League to Lisbon for a straight knockout tournament from the quarter-finals onwards, with all games being played behind closed doors and as one-off ties.

Mbappes half-hour

PSG therefore knew they would get no second chance to turn the tie around and coach Thomas Tuchels gamble on Mbappes fitness ultimately paid off.

Mbappe was left in a race against time to make this match after spraining his ankle in the French Cup final against Saint-Etienne on July 24.

He was only deemed fit enough to come on for the final 30 minutes, with PSG already diminished without the injured Marco Verratti and the suspended Angel Di Maria.

Neymar was there, Read More – Source