Cometh the hour, cometh the man – Neymar put up a masterclass display at Lisbon and helped PSG advance to the semifinals. It was his night, where played like a champion!

 

Most of the people around the globe had not yet switched on the television. While those who were watching live had not yet fully involved in the action-packed clash of the first quarterfinals of Champions League.

The game was just 4 minutes old. Neymar dribbled past the Atalanta defence all his own and then race through one-on-one with Spoirteillo only to slice a wonderful opportunity wide of the right side of the post. Kylian Mbappe had his head in his hands in the stand. Thomas Tuchel was left stunned. The fans could not believe it!

Neymar can’t miss those, can he?

That miss struck badly in the minds of the fans and immediately the fears of another famous choke by the French Team cropped up in the deepest corners of the heart. The impact of the miss was such that the backline of the injury-hit Paris Saint-Germain got nervous.

Keylor Navas then produced two outstanding stops to keep out headers from Hans Hateboer and Mattia Caldara, although the latter had been in an offside position.

Neymar created another opening only to fail to take advantage, but Pasalic made no mistake 27 minutes in, curling a first-time finish past Navas after the ball deflected into his path off Duvan Zapata.

That goal just shook everyone except Gian Piero Gasperini and his boys.

Okay, let’s get ready for another choke and banters from the renowned media houses and their experts.

PSG just don’t have the temperament to overcome the challenges in the big stage.

But the boy from Brazil, who had digested enough in the last two years never wanted to give up.

With major players absent, the hopes rested on him and the Brazilian is such a character that he can turn things around if he remains focused enough.

Neymar had become the only PSG player looking likely to score and yet was the reason they went into half-time behind, the Brazil star dancing his way through and rifling wide and then blazing over after an errant backpass from Hateboer.

Berat Djmisiti flashed a shot wide following a set-piece before Tuchel turned to Mbappe with just over half an hour remaining and then threw on Julian Draxler as desperation grew.

Mbappe drilled a shot straight at Marco Sportiello and Neymar did likewise after another mazy run, and a brilliant challenge from Jose Luis Palomino denied Mbappe from close range.

Atalanta’s plans were simple – hold Neymar off and defend the one-goal advantage to script a famous victory. There was no Gasperini way of style in the second half, but he went the Italian way.

No luck. Opportunities went begging. The clock was moving fast.

But Neymar never wanted to give up.

The boy from Brazil is entrusted with the big responsibility to carry the legacy of Pele, Garrincha, Romario, Ronaldo O Fenomeno, Bebeto, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho. He is the boy from the land of champions and champions keep trying until the end. Neymar kept on trying and was fighting against the fast-moving-time. He wanted to win desperately – even when few seconds are left in the clock, Neymar would dig deep and create opportunities.

In the 89-minute,  Neymar turned a deep cross into Marquinhos’ path and he finished via the knee of Caldara.

PSG were on level terms and when extra-time actions were looming large, Neymar essayed a golden pass that released Mbappe on the left who drilled the ball across the box and Choupo-Moting slid in to send PSG in the semifinals of the Champions League for the second time in their history.

In the twinkle of an eye, Gasperrini’s dreams shattered.

In the twinkle of an eye, Neymar was seen celebrating with his teammates.

It was his night, where he marshaled the game all his own like Garrincha and Romario and never let the shoulders of his teammate down. He was the leader of men – the leader who fought like a Cornered Tiger.

Even though Gasperini said that he would tackle Neymar with his style of play, but when he noticed that the Brazilian was hard to stop, he planned to limit the spaces for Neymar.

He had 112 touches in the match, created four chances, contested 33 duels, and attempted 50 passes in the Atalanta half – and played a key role in both goals.

Who else but Neymar – the boy from Brazil helped a fragile unit advance!