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'We subbed on an 18-year-old, PSG brought on Mbappe' - Gosens on Atalanta's European adventures

4:54 PM GMT+4 26/04/2022
Robin Gosens-20220128
The 27-year-old midfielder remembers the France star turning the quarter-final tie around in the dying stages of the game

Robin Gosens says he still gets "teary-eyed" when he recalls Atalanta being eliminated from the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain in 2020.

The two sides met in the quarter-finals of the tournament and the tie was concluded in just one game because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Atalanta had the lead for most of the game after Mario Palasic opened the scoring for the hosts in 27 minutes, but it all went wrong for the Serie A team in the dying minutes as PSG equalised in the 90th minute before scoring the winner in stoppage time.

What did Gosens say about PSG and Mbappe?

The catalyst for that turnaround, Gosens says, was Kylian Mbappe, who came off the bench for the final 30 minutes, while Atalanta had to call on youngster Jacopo Da Riva for some fresh legs.

"We ate up PSG in the first half, but we had to play in what felt like 40 degrees all three days beforehand because we had to make up so many games," Gosens, now playing for Inter, told DAZN.

"Then we slowly ran out of power from the 60th minute onwards. We substituted an 18-year-old towards the end and PSG brought on Mbappe. He wasn't quite fit, then came off the bench and then briefly set the game on fire and provided one or even two assists.

"We survived that long, until the 90th minute - and then, unfortunately, the dream was over. I still get teary-eyed today when I see Paris' winning goal. It was unimaginable to be eliminated so late.

"Nevertheless, it was an incredible experience, a career highlight - with a stab in the heart.

"In sporting terms, it was one of the most bitter moments ever, but that was already our breakthrough on the international stage, we became a kind of fearful opponent with different tactics than the others: You don't see one-on-one chasing on the field everywhere in international football.

"As Pep once said: 'Playing against Atalanta is like going to the doctor: nobody is up for it'."

Gosens on highs and lows at Atalanta

Gosens joined Atalanta from Dutch side Heracles in 2017 and found it difficult to settle in at Bergamo.

The Germany international said things hit a new low when he was substituted on in a Europa League defeat against Borussia Dortmund in 2018.

"We played against Dortmund in the Europa League," he explained. "I came on at a difficult phase, was thrown into the game - and then blamed for the defeat.

"Something collapsed inside me. After the game I called my dad and said: 'I think the step here was a mistake. We have to look around for the coming season. I don't think I can do this anymore'."

The turning point came soon after when Leonardo Spinazzola suffered a season-ending injury, clearing the way for Gosens to cement his place in the starting XI and become an Atalanta star.

"Shortly after the Dortmund game, my opponent tore his cruciate ligament," he said. "Then I was suddenly the only option, the coach had to let me play. Since then everything has changed.

"I thought I was playing for myself from then on anyway. That created a sense of freedom in my head - and it pleased the coach."

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