Kylian Mbappe outshone Neymar as he came off the bench to inspire Paris Saint-Germain to a dramatic late comeback against Atalanta to book their place in the Champions League semi-final, insisted Glenn Hoddle.
PSG looked certain to endure more heartbreak in Europe’s marquee competition with Atalanta leading in the dying embers of the match until Marquinhos and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored in injury time.
All eyes had been on Neymar at the beginning of the match but Hoddle believes PSG’s victory was solely down to super sub Mbappe despite the Frenchman only being fit enough to play the final 30 minutes.
The 21-year-old was only half match-fit after recovering from an ankle injury just in time to feature – and Hoddle couldn’t help but hail his impact after the final whistle.
‘Mbappe was the one who changed it – Neymar needed him,’ Hoddle said.
‘Neymar’s cutting edge wasn’t there but it’s the run off the ball, no one was making the movement [before Mbappe came on]. Mbappe was so sharp.’
Hoddle’s fellow BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand was also in no doubt as to who the plaudits should go to after the match, adding: ‘That’s what I love about Mbappe, the decision making, the skills, he makes the right decisions.’
Atalanta had taken the lead through Mario Pasalic in the 27th minute but Mbappe’s introduction on the hour mark changed the whole course of the match as two late strikes broke the hearts of the Serie A side – who had been making their first ever appearance in a Champions League quarter-final.
Neymar set up Marquinhos for the equaliser and was generally good on the night – bar squandering an early chance that he would’ve expected to bury – but Ferdinand and Hoddle felt it was Mbappe who stole the show, having watched him play an instrumental role in PSG’s winning goal.
Ferdinand said: ‘Before the game we said Neymar needed to take the game by the scruff of the neck and he did do that to an extent but his final ball and decision making just wasn’t there.’
‘That final ball, that final shot, the final pass wasn’t there,’ Hoddle agreed. ‘Mbappe was the one for me, not Neymar. Neymar did need that game.’
Despite feeling that Neymar was not quite at his best, Ferdinand went on to suggest that this could be PSG’s best chance to finally deliver the Champions League trophy.
He added: ‘You have a chance to beat anyone when you have Neymar and Mbappe. They are two of the best players on the planet.’