Diego Simeone on his ten-man Atletico Madrid drawing 1-1 with Arsenal: You need balls to defend
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone praised his ten men after escaping from the Emirates with a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final on Thursday evening.
Antoine Griezmann grabbed an all-important away goal with eight minutes left following a comedy of errors from Laurent Koscielny, David Opsina and Shkodran Mustafi whose individual mistakes combined to allow French international to fire home.
Earlier Alexandre Lacazette had headed the Gunners in front of a raucous Emirates crowd on a night of high drama.
The Croatian international Sime Vrsaljko had been booked by French referee Clement Turpin after only two minutes following a foul on Jack Wilshere but eight minutes later he stamped on Lacazette’s foot to give the official no option but to send him off.
Minutes later a clearly incensed Simeone demanded Hector Bellerin to be awarded a yellow card after a clash with Lucas Hernandez. However, the official sent the Argentine to the stands instead.
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Speaking after the game he said: “The referee decided to send me off. I thought an Arsenal player should have got a booking but he sent me to the sidelines.
“My body was filled with strong emotions for 90 minutes. My players are heroes. They stood firm after a long season.
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“We had to survive in the Europa League. I never think everything is lost. The team has worked so hard over so many years.
“The way my players got after the Arsenal players today. When my players defend and defend and defend. You need balls to defend.”
Atletico will host Arsenal in the second leg at their new 67,000 stadium, Wanda Metropolitano,
The club are the third most successful in Spain having won La Liga ten times. They have also been European Cup/Champions League runners-up three times.
Simeone promised a fiery welcome for Arsenal warning: “Our stadium needs to be exploding with energy. I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about the next match [against Arsenal]
“This match sums up this season. It’s been a complicated season. We have a new stadium.
“The team responded with some fantastic defensive work and it will go down in the history of European football for Atletico Madrid.
“We have a 50 per cent chance to go through.”