Diego Simeone praises Atletico Madrid players and fans after reaching Champions League quarterfinals
Madrid, March 18 (IANS) Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has praised his side's spirit after seeing them qualify for the quarterfinals of the Champions League after a nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out against Bayer Leverkusen.
Mario Suarez's goal (27th minute) gave Atletico a 1-0 win on the night but after 90 minutes at Vicente Calderon, and the tie was 1-1 on aggregate. Fernando Torres scored the decisive penalty but as always, Simeone preferred to highlight the collective effort, reports Xinhua.
"I'm delighted by the effort of the team. They made a huge effort in a typical cup game against a team who played with incredible intensity. After scoring, we tried to look for another goal which would keep us alive in the competition but always conscious that conceding would make life complicated for us," said the Atletico coach.
Simeone highlighted his side was missing players such as Tiago Cardoso, Saul, Diego Godin and also goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya, who went out with injury after just 20 minutes.
"His injury meant we had to use a substitution quite early on. I hope he's back with us soon. Football is great and that shows you should never stop working because one day you'll be faced with a hugely important game," said Simeone, who then saw how substitute keeper Jan Oblak become a hero in the penalty shoot-out.
The Atletico coach also praised the supporters who packed the stands of Vicente Calderon, saying, "They were great. We're in the last eight and it gives me goosebumps just saying that.”
“The fans have no idea of the strength they give to the team," said the coach, who had no preferences over who his side could meet in the last eight. "They're all great teams and you can't choose who you'll face, so we'll wait and see."
The draw for the quarterfinals will be held on Friday.