Simeone hails one of Atleticos best games

30 March 2014 01:01

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone lauded his side's resolve as they came from a goal down to remain top of La Liga by beating Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at San Mames on Saturday.

A 33rd goal of the season from Diego Costa cancelled out Iker Muniain's early goal for the hosts before Koke headed home a vital winner 10 minutes into the second-half

Victory means Atletico maintain their one point lead over Barcelona -- who were also narrow victors 1-0 over Espanyol on Saturday -- with just seven games remaining.

"We are aware of how well we played, it was one of the best games we have played in the league. We won the ball back quickly and were very quick to exploit the space for Diego (Costa)," Simeone told the club's website.

"The team has excelled in terms of our play, our commitment and intensity to win the game. We continue in an important position, but with the same calm to face the games that are left.

"The three points are very important in a very difficult place to come to with extraordinary fans. It is a real football stadium. Given the circumstances it was one of the best games we have played.

"All the players performed well, including the substitutes. It was a very positive game for us and we are ecstatic with the result."

Atletico now face Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday and also travel to play the Catalans on the final day of the league season.

However, as he has all season, Simeone continued to deflect talk of his side going onto win the title.

"We are enjoying the situation day by day, minute by minute, training session by training session and game by game. That is how we feel strong and we will continue like that because we don't want to get away from that line of thinking.

"It is not easy to travel away and play with such consistency, but that is what we are doing well. We are very happy and the fans will enjoy this moment.

"Now we have to prepare the training session for the match against Barcelona which will be very difficult."

Real Madrid also remain in the hunt for the title as they reacted in style from two consecutive league defeats to beat Rayo Vallecano 5-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu to remain three points adrift of Atletico in third.

"We reacted well after two defeats," said Real boss Carlo Ancelotti.

"We played well and our attitude was good, which will serve us well for the next game.

"Obviously, we could have been in a better position at this point in the season, but mentally I think we reacted well today and can look forward with optimism."

Ancelotti admitted it was a blow for his side to take to the pitch knowing Atletico and Barca had already come through tough tests earlier in the day.

However, he was happy with how they handled they pressure and is hoping it will prove to be a confidence boost ahead of Borussia Dortmund's visit to the Spanish capital in the Champions League on Wednesday.

"The results before could affect us a little bit, but that is normal. What we had to do was concentrate on our own game and we did that.

"On Wednesday we are going to have a very good atmosphere in the Bernabeu because everyone has the dream of winning the tenth European Cup and everyone understands we need to be united to achieve this dream."

Source: AFP