Diego Simeone praised Atletico Madrid for breaking “new and privileged” ground after Wednesday’s 2-0 win against PSV in the Champions League.
Goals from Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann in the second half ensured Atleti won Group D en route to the Champions League last 16, and Simeone struggled to contain his delight with the manner in which Los Colchoneros had pulled themselves out of a rut.
“Perhaps in the second half when we looked least comfortable and were under a bit of pressure, Gameiro’s break and pace helped us turn the game on its head,” the Coch said after the match, UEFA’s official website reports.
“Gameiro was looking good in the first half too, and had some chances. The goal was a demonstration of his qualities. Speed, power, finish. It was a great finish.
“That’s what both he and Griezmann offer. It was an important moment both for him and the team.
“We were able to open up the game when they were making things difficult for us. After Saturday’s loss we wanted to put that behind us.
“The crowd’s support was very important and brilliant. The side grew into the game and in the second half we looked freer after the goal. We didn’t rush passes, we had freedom and confidence.
“There’s no one way of winning. There’s a lot of different ways. You prepare games in different ways looking to get the right result.
“You get criticised at times, praised at other times and you have to take it in your stride. The same with games and the way you play.
“For the club and fans this is an important step to get into the knockout stage. It is a privileged position to allow us to keep competing as we want to.
“It is born from the games in Holland and Russia that allowed us to be in this position now. When the draw was made it wasn’t straight forward.
“Look at the result today; to win in Russia is very hard. People thought it was easy but they’ve shown it wasn’t and we went there and did a job.
“In the first half we had chances, too. With Tiago in the middle of the park we have another player there to share duties with Koke and Gabi.
“If you at the goals PSV were playing well, but we had numbers and were able to win the ball back and counter.
“I’m pleased for the players. They’re responding very well to what I ask. It’s a new situation for us.
“We’re in the Champions League three seasons in a row, return to it, keep getting to the knockout stages, winning the group. You always want more.
“Finishing top of the group is better than second. First is always better than second, no matter the circumstances.
“When the knockout stage starts it's another competition. We’ll play the return leg at home, which can help, but you also have to be wary of the away goals rule too.”