‘We achieved a great result’ – Simeone revels in Atletico Madrid victory as Champions League hopes are boosted

The Argentine manager reflected on his team’s triumphant La Liga outing against Real Valladolid on Saturday

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone hailed his team’s late make an impression on Real Valladolid as they boosted their chances of finishing in La Liga’s top four.

Vitolo came off the bench and headed home the 81st-minute winner for Atletico in a 1-0 victory in the home to Valladolid on Saturday.

Atletico moved straight back up to third in the standings – level on points with Sevilla after 30 games and four clear of Getafe – in the race for Champions League qualification.

“It’s always important to take something from a game and even better when you win,” Simeone said. “There were items to improve, but we’ve had three months without a normal preparation and you’re playing every three days.

“There’s a need to adapt and reinvent yourself, given the circumstances. This was a extremely important win.

“We had chances in the first half and couldn’t score, then in the second half it was tough against a very organised side. We could have won or lost, but we achieved a great result.”

Atletico played nowadays at the Wanda Metropolitano due to the coronavirus pandemic and Simeone added: “The fans weren’t there in the flesh, however they were there in spirit.

“The minute of silence before the match and the music in the empty stadium were pure emotion. We lost many people.”

A clutch of chances had been spurned by the full time Vitolo came off the bench to replace Marcos Llorente with 17 minutes remaining, with Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata having gone close.

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When the breakthrough came in the 81st minute it had been dramatic, Vitolo heading at goal after a corner from the left reached him at the far post.

Valladolid defender Kiko Olivas felt he had nodded it off the line after diving spectacularly to attain the ball, but replays showed it had been six inches over and Atletico moved back around third.

Vitolo, whose Atletico side have eradicated titleholders Liverpool en route to the Champions League quarter-finals this season, said: “The club’s goal is to quality for the Champions League next season. There are many teams that trying and it will be decided in the last matches. Hopefully we can enter and give the fans joy.”