Atletico de Madrid match-winner Saul Niguez has described their victory over Liverpool as “the result of a lot of hard work.”
The Spain international decided the first leg of their Round of 16 tie in the fourth minute at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday night, with the visiting side failing to even record a shot on target during the encounter.
Diego Simeone’s side had just one win in their last seven domestically but produced their best performance and result of the campaign to date.
It was a supreme team effort from Los Rojiblancos, who themselves rarely threatened to add a second goal but looked dangerous on the occasions which they managed to produce a counterattack.
“This victory is the result of a lot of hard work and what happens when you never stop believing but keep on going,” Saul is cited as saying by Marca.
“We have kept on working as hard as we can even though nobody believed in us and peopled wanted to stop us.
“We know that sometimes we play nice and sometimes not, but that doesn’t worry us, what worries us is that people see this commitment.
“When you play in the Champions League against a team like Liverpool and in such an environment, everyone has an extra motivation. We all would like our team to compete as it did today and win all the games, but this is not always possible.
“I celebrated the goal with so much passion because I was so up for the game, we have been criticised a lot but luckily I was able to help us out – I have dedicated the goal to my girlfriend.
“The stadium was incredible, it reminded me of the old nights of the Vicente Calderón.
“The return leg will be very difficult and there is a lot of time to think about what might happen.”
Atleti will look to complete the job and advance through to the quarter-finals of the competition, with the second leg to be held at Anfield on 11 March.
They will be wary of Barcelona’s exit last season – winning 3-0 at the Camp Nou against Liverpool before going down 4-0 in the away leg.