Neymar may have squandered a few chances last night – but he was still comfortably the most inspirational player on the pitch as Paris Saint-Germain pulled off a stunning late turnaround against Atalanta.
With 89 minutes gone, the French champions were set to suffer another Champions League heartbreak until two quickfire goals sent them through to the semi-finals for the first time since 1995.
Neymar was given the man-of-the-match award
Atalanta couldn’t get near the 28-year-old
While Marquinhos and Erik Maxim Choupo-Mouting, of all people, got the goals, it was the world’s two most expensive players who provided the inspiration – Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Bought for nights like these, the two forwards combined in stoppage time to lay the winner on a plate for ex-Stoke striker Choupo-Mouting, after Neymar had set up the equaliser.
Mbappe’s second-half introduction certainly lifted PSG, but Neymar was fully deserving of his man-of-the-match award.
Neymar and Mbappe proved their worth
The Brazil international completed 16 successful dribbles, equalling the Champions League record set by Lionel Messi in 2008.
Atalanta tried their best to kick him out of the game: Neymar also won nine fouls, more than any player in a single Champions League match this season.
It was just his own finishing which let him down, throwing away three excellent first-half chances after some fantastic approach play.
It was clear how much the victory meant to Neymar – who was brought in to deliver Champions League success
Had PSG been eliminated, those missed chances would’ve dominated today’s headlines, probably saying the most expensive player in the world failed to turn up when his team needed him most.
Instead, we can reflect on a wonderfully gifted player carrying his team, refusing to give up until the very last minute, and providing the sort of inspiration only a certain few can.