Paris Saint Germain knocked her resilient Atalanta from the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, thanks to the brilliant performance from 28-year-old Brazilian international Neymar.
Though Atalanta started the match more determined than PSG, the form of Neymar in a night the French club needed him the most was too hot for the Italian club to handle. He dribbled, he passed, he missed goals scoring chances, he made tackles and most of all he assisted to bring PSG back into the game in the 90th minute.
Despite the fact that he was not able to score a goal throughout the duration of the match, the Brazilian presence on the pitch was an overwhelming threat to the opposition. He would have buried the match in the first half if he had not thrown away his one-on-one encounter with Atalanta goalkeeper, Marco Sportiello.
However, the miss was not enough to take away Neymar’s general contribution to the fierce matchup against a compact Atalanta team. If the Italian club had won, he would not have been forgiven by the fans of PSG who are desperately in need of a Champions League title.
Neymar’s man of the match performance was crowned in the 90th minute of the game when he assisted his teammate Marquinhos to force the game into a 1-1 draw. Neymar continued to participate in the pressure PSG were mounting on Atalanta in the additional minute. The pressure paid off when Kylian Mbappe assisted Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to make it 2-1.
The Brazilian combination with Mbappe was enough to land PSG their first Champions League semi-final appearance in 25 years. And the victory became even sweeter as it came on the day the club marked its 50th anniversary.
“1% chance 99% faith 🙏🏽 whoever believes always achieves !!! Congratulations team 🔴🔵 ALLEZ PARIS”, Neymar wrote on Instagram after the match.
Why Neymar became the man of the match
Though Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was one of the most important players for PSG and scorer of the winning goal, Neymar literary carried the entire PSG team on his shoulder.
It could also have been awarded to 𝗘𝗥𝗜𝗖 𝗠𝗔𝗫𝗜𝗠 𝗖𝗛𝗢𝗨𝗣𝗢-𝗠𝗢𝗧𝗜𝗡𝗚 💉 pic.twitter.com/2eugFNRl7l— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) August 12, 2020
The most expensive player in the world who joined PSG from Barcelona for a whopping £200 million proved to the fans of the club that he worth the investment. In the process of doing that, he broke Lionel Messi’s record in the Champions League by completing 16 dribbles within 90 minutes. Messi made this record in April 2008 when Barcelona faced Manchester United in a Champions League match.
Though his fine misses in the first half of the match might be impossible to forget, Neymar crowned his effort by assisting Marquinhos to get the equalizer in the 90th minute.
“I never thought of going home”, Neymar said after the match. “From the warm-up to the end, we believed in it. We never gave up. No-one will take this desire to go to the final away from me.
“We are a great group, we are a family, so we know that with this state of mind, it is impossible to eliminate us.”
Neymar’s stats against Atalanta
Minutes Played: 90
Touches In Box: 9
On Target: 2
Final Third Passes: 29