Saul Niguez denied revenge for the first leg was Atletico Madrid’s motivation against Barcelona and said the team ‘never lost hope.’
The midfielder created Antoine Griezmann’s first goal of the night as Atletico won 2-0, recovering the 2-1 defeat at Camp Nou that was marred by controversy as Luis Suarez evaded a red card but Fernando Torres was dismissed.
“No, we were moving forward to the semi-finals,” Saul replied, AS reports, when asked if anger over the first game was the cause of the Atleti comeback.
“The public, our families and the people who don’t support us, they are our strength. With hard work, we never lost hope and we work as a team. We had to shift our backsides, get closer together and keep running until the end.”
Saul went on to explain his thought process as he teed up Griezmann’s opener, and his view of the handball claim against Gabi that was given as a free-kick, not a penalty.
“I saw his hand outside the penalty area and the handball as involuntary. We don’t have to think about that. These are things that can happen in a game,” he considered.
“I saw Griezmann alone. I tried to centre the ball and we’ve scored the goal that gave us peace.
“The score wasn’t fair or unfair. We did a great job and we’ve achieved progression.”