Top Winners and Losers After Wednesday's Champions League Quarterfinals Results

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 12, 2020

PSG's Neymar, left, celebrates with teammate PSG's Kylian Mbappe, right, after his team's win in the Champions League quarterfinal match between Atalanta and PSG at Luz stadium, Lisbon, Portugal, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. (David Ramos/Pool Photo via AP)
David Ramos/Associated Press

Paris Saint-Germain went from frustration to pure joy in the span of three minutes on its way to beating Atalanta 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The French club had a miserable night in the final third for the first 89 minutes, as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe failed to put a bevy of quality chances on net.

Atalanta put itself in a good position to advance through a 26th-minute goal out of Mario Pasalic, but after that, the Italian side was stuck in its own end trying to fend off PSG's advances.

Marquinhos and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting dealt the final blows to Atalanta's surprising run to the quarterfinals with a goal each.

PSG is the first of four teams to move on to the semifinals of the competition, which is being finished in Lisbon, Portugal.

         

Winner: Kylian Mbappe

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As missed chance after missed chance occurred, the need for Mbappe's introduction grew.

Once he entered in the 60th minute, PSG had two of the world's best attacking players willing to run at Atalanta's tired defenders for the final 30 minutes.

Mbappe delivered the game-winning assist to Choupo-Moting by sending a ball across the goal mouth from the left side of the box.

During his 30-minute shift, the 21-year-old Frenchman recorded 29 touches, put two of his three shots on target and produced the most important helper of the season.

The performance more than made up for the disappointing shifts turned in by Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia, who were bystanders to the Neymar show for two-thirds of the contest.

The late surge fueled by Mbappe advanced PSG to the UEFA Champions League semifinals for the second time since the 1994-95 season, per Opta.

                 

Winner: Neymar

Before he dropped in an assist on the game-tying goal, Neymar produced a disappointing outing.

The Brazilian wasted a handful of clear-cut chances on net throughout the first half, and if he would have finished one or two, the game may have been over before halftime.

To his credit, Neymar did not let the frustration of missed chances or the lack of production from his fellow strikers get in the way of pushing for the equalizer.

The addition of Mbappe helped stretch Atalanta's defense thin, and Neymar eventually found a hole to center a ball into Marquinhos in the 90th minute.

Neymar finished with 16 dribbles, four key passes, two shots on goal from seven attempts and an assist.

If Neymar and Mbappe are upfront to start in the semifinal, or final if PSG gets that far, their pace and on-ball ability could be hard for any defense to stop.

           

Loser: Jose Luis Palomino

Jose Luis Palomino was one of a few Atalanta defenders caught out in the buildup to the pair of PSG goals.

On the equalizer, Palomino stood flatfooted as the Choupo-Moting cross floated over his head and on to the boot of Neymar.

Three minutes later, he inched forward too much when trying to follow the ball and allowed Mbappe space to run behind on the left side of the box and send his pass into Choupo-Moting.

Although the entire Atalanta defense deserves blame for failing to track the multiple runners into the box, Palomino's mistakes stand out more because of the players who exploited the areas he was closest to in the two most critical moments of the contest.

           

Loser: Gian Piero Gasperini

Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini deserves plenty of credit for getting his side as far as the quarterfinals, but his substitution decisions cost the Italian club chances to surge forward on the counter to finish off the game.

Alejandro "Papu" Gomez was taken off in the 59th minute after dishing out five key passes and causing havoc between PSG's defensive lines. In Gomez's place, Ruslan Malinovskyi only made 13 touches and did not do much moving forward.

Pasalic was also removed for a reinforcement in Luis Muriel that did not create much. With the way the game was progressing, Atalanta had to defend, but it also needed to keep its options open to counter and bury PSG in a moment's notice.

Gasperini removed his two most productive attacking players, and the ones who entered offered little reprieve for a defense that was under pressure for a majority of the second half.

            

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from WhoScored.