Sports Desk, Aug 12 (efe-epa).- Paris Saint-Germain are headed to the Champions League semifinals for the first time in 25 years after scoring twice in four minutes Wednesday to beat Atalanta 2-1.
The Italian club, hoping to reach the final four of the Champions League for the first time in their history, led heavily favored PSG for more than a hour in the contest behind closed doors at Lisbon’s Estadio da Luz.
The French champions were without the suspended Angel Di Maria – who watched from the stands – and the injured Marco Verratti, while Kylian Mbappe dressed for the match but began the evening on the bench amid concerns about his banged-up ankle.
Those absences, added to the departure from the club of Edinson Cavani, left Neymar to carry the load for PSG.
The Brazilian star got his first chance in the 3rd minute, but inexplicably fired the ball wide of Marco Sportiello’s goal, a reprieve that buoyed the Italian side.
Papu Gomez led an Atalanta attack that tested PSG keeper Keylor Navas three times in the space of 15 minutes before breaking through in the 27th on a goal by Mario Pasalic.
On the next sequence, Neymar nutmegged Pasalic before unleashing a blast from 20 yards that grazed the outside of the post.
With his side still trailing as the game approached the hour mark, PSG coach Thomas Tuchel turned to Mbappe and the World Cup winner did not disappoint, opening a new front to take the pressure off Neymar.
Navas went off hurt in the 79th, replaced in the net by Sergio Rico. A minute later, Tuchel used his final change to replace Mauro Icardi with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Atalanta saw the prize edging closer as the seconds ticked off until the 89th minute, when Choupo-Moting found Neymar at the far post and the Brazilian crossed to Marquinhos for the equalizer.
Three minutes into stoppage time, PSG’s Thilo Kehrer got the ball to Neymar, who passed to Mbappe.
Mbappe sent a low cross into the area and Choupo-Moting connected to make it 2-1.
Next up for PSG will be the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between three-time runners-up Atletico Madrid and RB Leipzig, a club founded in 2009 playing in the Champions League for only the second time. EFE