Simeone hails Atletico players after knocking out Barcelona

Madrid, April 14 (IANS) Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone applauded his players’ spirit after knocking defending champions FC Barcelona out of the Champions League football tournament in the quarter-finals.

“It is clear that with great work of more than four years together, there are different ways of playing. I feel very happy for the players,” the Argentine coach said after the match on Wednesday, reports Efe.

Atletico Madrid are headed to the Champions League semi-finals for the second time in three years after defeating Barcelona 2-0 in the second leg match for a 3-2 aggregate win in the quarterfinal tie. Barcelona won the first leg 2-1.

French international Antoine Griezmann, Atletico’s top scorer this season, made both goals.

“I would not say it’s only a pass to the semi-finals, I think it’s much more important. There is a group of people from the kit men, employees, players, and fans that are all in a line,” Simeone acknowledged.

“I think that we took the first time half to where it suited us. Not so in the second half, Barcelona took it to their territory. We became strong with our people, the system and the physical work,” he added.

Atletico’s cross-town rivals, Real Madrid, qualified for the semi-finals on Tuesday, as did Manchester City, who will be making their first appearance in the Champions League final four.

Bayern Munich defeated Benfica 3-2 on aggregate in Wednesday’s other match to grab the fourth semi-final berth.

“We strongly believe in the values of life. We found a great group of guys who respond to what they have in life. When they came out to the field today I told them that they had great values as individuals and as a group, and that they should pass it on to the game, that the game would only reward them,” Simeone explained.

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