Derrius Guice Reaction
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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.
Of course, another part of the reason PSG were able to be in a position to get those late winners was because they had stifled Atalanta’s otherwordly attacking prowess in the final 45 minutes of the match. The Italian side’s threats in the first half had PSG scrambling for possession and looks, but in the second half, all of those threats were snuffed out. PSG’s midfield took more control of the ball, and their defense stood tall when they needed to. It feels obvious to say, but it must be noted that this kind of comeback surely does not happen if Atalanta get even one more ball into the back of the net.
As mentioned before, the last time that PSG made it to a Champions League semifinal was 25 years ago, but it’s also worth noting that this is just the second time they’ve reached this stage of the competition in club history — coincidentally, PSG celebrates 50 years of existence today. What this accomplishment also means is that the club is putting its legacy of choking in this competition as far behind it as possible. Prior to today’s win, PSG had lost their previous four quarterfinals in the competition, which included that massive heartbreaker against Barcelona some years ago. This club is going to have to do a lot more winning to completely distance themselves from all the failure they’ve amassed over the years, but a dramatic win like tonight’s is certainly a step in the right direction.
“You can only maybe feel it in sports, something like this. To describe it, no words.” PSG coach @TTuchelofficial shares his post-match thoughts on what is the club’s 50th birthday. pic.twitter.com/l0HJ7TvTiR
Shoutout to @Atalanta_BC for quite the @ChampionsLeague run.▪️ Narrowly avoided relegation in 2014-2015 season▪️ Finished 3rd in Serie A in the 2019-2020 season▪️ Defeated Valencia 8-4 on aggregate in the UCL Round of 16▪️ Led PSG 1-0 into stoppage time… pic.twitter.com/dbwKtX9D5C
A special day!Our 5⃣0⃣th anniversary and qualification to the semi-finals of the Champions League ??? #ParisEstMagique pic.twitter.com/cIiFWSDG7Q
« That’s the key pass I feel, the one from Neymar. »A breakdown of the game-winning goal and how PSG was able to rise to the occasion. pic.twitter.com/FUyBWzobZi
« What’s Neymar done now @Pschmeichel1?!… Stick to goalkeeping »@Carra23 liked that game-winning goal just a bit… ? pic.twitter.com/XF2ojtKchg
#AtalantaPSG | 1-2 | FULL-TIME⏹️ A testa altissima. Orgoliosi di voi, ragazzi!? With your heads held high. We are proud of you, guys! #UCL #GoAtalantaGo ⚫? pic.twitter.com/OLSu2rfFZR
UNBELIEVABLE! @PSG_English are into the semi-final of the @ChampionsLeague after a 2-1 win! ❤️ #WeAreParis ?#ATAPSG pic.twitter.com/NjF50z9TBm
90+6′ Luis Muriel was given a chance streaking alone towards the box, but he was unable to get the pass under control and the ball rolled just out of play for him. It’s one he’ll want back for a long, long time.
#AtalantaPSG | 1-2 | 90’+4’❌ Il PSG la ribalta con Choupo Moting.❌ PSG take the lead through Choupo Moting.#UCL #GoAtalantaGo ⚫?
The Italian dream is crashing down! Neymar finds Kylian Mbappe, who sends the cross necessary to find Choupo-Moting for what surely has to be the winner at this stage.
#AtalantaPSG | 1-1 | 90’❌ Gol di Marquinhos, pareggio del PSG.❌ Marquinhos scores, PSG equalise.#UCL #GoAtalantaGo ⚫?
The relief off the shoulders are felt from here! Neymar gets the ball in the box, his miskick finds the feet of Marquinhos and the shot bounces off a defender to go into the net.
#AtalantaPSG | 1-0 | 85′? Deviazione insidiosa di #Caldara, pallone sopra la traversa e palla in angolo. Poi Choupo-Moting alto di testa.? Tricky deflection from Caldara, the ball goes over for a corner. Then Choupo-Moting heads over.#UCL #GoAtalantaGo ⚫?
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