Diego Simeone: “The game had everything”

Atletico Madrid travelled to Porto this evening for a do-or-die Champions League tie. Los Rojiblancos were bottom of Group B going into the game, level on points with Milan and a point behind Porto. Liverpool were out of sight, eleven points clear of Atletico.

Atletico had to beat Porto tonight and hope Milan didn’t beat Liverpool in the group’s other game, and that’s what happened. Atletico won 3-1 while Milan lost 2-1 to Liverpool at San Siro, meaning Liverpool and Atletico have proceeded to the last 16.

Porto dominated the first half but failed to make their early chances pay and it was Atletico who took the lead in the 56th minute. Antoine Griezmann was ready at the back post when the ball fell to him from a corner.

Griezmann then did superbly in the 90th minute to assist Angel Correa, who made it 2-0, before Rodrigo de Paul put the result beyond all doubt with a third. The game was also marked by moments of violence – Yannick Carrasco and Wendell both saw red, as well as two Porto coaches and one Atletico coach.

“I’ve been at this club for ten years and the team always ends up exciting me in new ways,” Diego Simeone said post-match in comments carried by Marca. “The difficulties, the fact that we didn’t have three of our four centre-backs, but there are players with few minutes who are still so important to us. Today it was [Sime] Vrsaljko’s turn, we knew he could do his job. [Geoffrey] Kondogbia is the same.

“The whole team got involved in the game, gave everything, put their hearts into it. We have a goalkeeper who delivered in moments of difficulty. In the second half, if they had scored from that chance, they win. Today was a beautiful day, a great day. The boys from the youth team made it through and I wanted to as well. They gave us the ambition of wanting to make it through. We are going to remember this as one of the classic Champions League matches of our lifetime, against a great team in a tough game. We’re similar. The game had everything – sendings off, chances. Football, how beautiful.”

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