Diego Simeone said he was ‘proud’ of his Atletico Madrid side after their explosive Champions League quarter-final elimination by Manchester City, which ended in a sideline brawl and the police had to intervene in the tunnel.
City face Real Madrid in the semi-final after Wednesday’s goalless draw at the Wanda Metropolitano saw them progress 1-0 on aggregate.
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (US only)
– You don’t have ESPN? Access immediately
Atletico defender Felipe’s late red card sparked a scrum which continued into the tunnel at full time, as Stefan Savic tried to take on Jack Grealish and Sime Vrsaljko had to be restrained by the coaching staff before that the police do not intervene to restore order.
“We have always been proud,” Simeone told a press conference on Saturday when asked about his team’s performance and behavior.
“We don’t need an episode, or a night, to increase it more. We are proud. We know where we come from and the work we have done over these long years.”
The post-match fracas overshadowed a second-half display that saw Atletico put City under sustained pressure, creating a string of chances to score a goal that would have taken the tie into extra time.
“You feel good when you give your all and show the best version of yourself,” Simeone said. “We weren’t clinical. We got knocked out but we’re calm because we gave it our all.”
The result means Atletico can now focus on La Liga, where they host Espanyol on Sunday.
Atletico are fourth – level on 57 points with Real Betis, who have played one game more, in fifth – as they battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“The most important challenge we have is to show what the players have managed to show [against City]’ said Simeon.
“We – the technical staff and the players – have shown that we can compete very well.”