Rodrigo de Paul has defended teammate Yannick Carrasco after his penalty miss condemned Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. Los Colchoneros knew they had to beat Bayer Leverkusen in order to stand a chance and were handed a golden opportunity to do so. At 2-2 in the 96th minute, they were given a penalty but neither Carrasco nor the two follow ups could find the net.
Speaking to Diario AS following the draw that felt like a defeat, de Paul did not place any of the blame at Carrasco’s door.
“It’s not Yannick’s fault. You have to have balls to take the penalty”.
De Paul himself had one of his better games, coming on at half-time and scoring a beautiful goal from outside the box five minutes later. It set up Atleti to go for the win, yet they could not find the crucial third.
“It is a very cruel way [to go out]. That’s football. What can I say? We did everything to win in the second half. The previous matches we have been punished, we lacked that little bit of luck that is needed and we drew with very bad luck. You can not say more. I’m very disappointed. It’s a very tough result.”
De Paul apologised to the fans after, who contributed to a raucous atmosphere at the Metropolitano.
“We can only thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the support you give us, also after a match that eliminated us. They deserve so much more. I’m very sorry, the team is very sorry and we haven’t been able to give you the joy of continuing in the Champions League”.
Atleti must now pick themselves up. If Leverkusen beat Club Brugge on the final matchday, then Diego Simeone’s side are required to beat Porto just to qualify for the Europa League.