Football Article

Stoke City Flop Becomes Champions League Hero

Stoke City Flop Becomes Champions League Hero Photo: TT
Stoke City flop becomes Champions League hero

A player who was a major flop during his one season with Stoke City in the Premier League was the unlikely hero for PSG in their Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon on Wednesday night.

Eric Maxim Chupo-Moting, a 79th minute substitute, helped PSG equalise in the last minute against Serie A side Atalanta, and then, just 146 seconds later, slid in the winner as his side came from behind to reach the semi-final. They will now play the winner of the Barcelona versus Bayern Munich tie.

For anybody who saw him pull on a Stoke City jersey a more improbable hero is hard to imagine.

Chupo-Moting was born in Germany, and played regional football, before breaking into the Hamburg first-team. He then played for Mainz and Schalke, before joining Stoke on a three-year deal.

He was bought to score goals, but his stay In England was a difficult one, as he struggled to cope with the pace and intensity of the Premier League. He only managed to find the net five times in 32 appearances and Stoke were relegated to the Championship at the end of the season.

Eyebrows were raised, therefore, when he subsequently joined PSG on a free transfer, a journeyman in a squad full of superstars.

He has not been pulling up any trees in the French capital either, scoring just six league goals in two seasons with them. At one stage he seemed certain to leave the club when his current contract expired this June, but due to the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, they decided it was cheaper to keep him rather than buy a replacement.

They are extremely glad that they did so now.

Prior to his arrival on the pitch, PSG looked like they were about to suffer another disappointment in the Champions League, trailing to a goal from Mario Palaci in the 28th minute.

Neymar had tried to inspire his teammates but was also responsible for two bad missed on the night. And, despite the introduction of a not fully fit Kylian Mbapp from the bench to add some much-needed pace to their attack, they seemed like they would fall short until Chupo-Motings late, and unexpected, contribution.

Suneer chowdhary
Sports Pundit staff writer @suneerchowdhary
ICC-accredited cricket journalist, covers Team India through their cricketing journey around the world

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