Paris are through to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for only the second time after a dramatic 2-1 defeat of competition debutants Atalanta.
Match in brief
Paris were so nearly the first to land a blow, Neymar racing clear in the third minute only to slot wide with just Marco Sportiello to beat. Atalanta soon found their feet, with Hans Hateboer’s back-post header – smartly saved by Keylor Navas – serving notice of their growing intent.
La Dea’s ascendancy was rewarded before the half-hour when Duván Zapata played the ball neatly into the path of Mario Pašalić, whose first-time effort from just inside the penalty area arced perfectly past Navas.
Paris carved relatively little out of their superior possession for much of the second half, at least until the 90th minute when Neymar squared for Marquinhos to tap in from close range.
Crestfallen, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side had barely caught their breath when substitute Kylian Mbappé raced down the left and crossed for fellow replacement Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to help himself to an added-time winner.
Man of the match: Neymar (Paris)
Cosmin Contra, UEFA technical observer: “He was the most dangerous player on the pitch.”
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) August 12, 2020
Vieri Capretta, Atalanta reporter
This is the Atalanta we’re used to – a team everyone struggles to play against, but not impeccable. Atalanta scored, Paris initially didn’t take their chances, but when La Dea started struggling physically Paris’ quality made the difference. Pašalić scored a beauty, but it wasn’t enough. This will be remembered as one of the most entertaining debut seasons in the history of the competition.
Chris Burke, Paris reporter
Unbelievable. Paris are through to their first Champions League semi-final in 25 years – on the 50th anniversary of their foundation – thanks to a turnaround that will go down in the annals of the club. Thomas Tuchel’s men had been outworked and out-thought before those late goals, but they put their missed chances behind them and showed remarkable character to prevail. Not a quality we often associate with this Paris team, but clearly they are made of sterner stuff this season.
Paris’ sole previous Champions League semi-final appearance came in 1994/95.
That 25-year gap between semi-final appearances is a Champions League record – beating Ajax’s 22-year absence between 1997 and 2019.
Choupo-Moting’s only other Champions League goal was a 90th-minute penalty winner for Schalke in a 4-3 victory against Sporting CP on matchday 3 of the 2014/15 competition.
This was Marquinhos’ first Champions League goal since 11 December 2018, in a 4-1 group stage win at Crvena zvezda.
This was the fifth successive Champions League game in which Atalanta opened the scoring – they won all of the previous four.
Atalanta: Sportiello; Tolói, Caldara, Djimsiti (Palomino 60); Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens (Castagne 82); Pašalić (Muriel 70), A Gómez (Malinovskyi 59); Zapata (Da Riva 82)
Paris: Navas (Rico 79); Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat; Herrera (Draxler 72), Marquinhos, Gueye (Paredes 72); Sarabia (Mbappé 60), Icardi (Choupo-Moting 79), Neymar
Paris will take on the winners of Thursday’s quarter-final between Leipzig and Atlético. Their single-leg semi-final will kick off at 21:00 CET on Tuesday 18 August and will be held at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica in Lisbon.