Atletico gave their heart and soul, says Simeone

MADRID • Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone lauded his side's determination to keep making their mark on the Champions League after they reached the quarter-finals for a fourth consecutive season.

Simeone's men have lost out in the final to cross-city rivals Real Madrid in two of the past three seasons. However, they have another chance at Champions League glory as a 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday sealed their place in today's last-eight draw, 4-2 on aggregate.

"Firstly there is joy," said the Argentinian. "It shows the great effort the club and, above all, the players have made in the way they have competed and given their heart and soul in the past four years.

"Everyone has done their bit to be among the top eight teams in Europe."

Atletico were far from their best at the Vicente Calderon as they relied on a stunning triple save from goalkeeper Jan Oblak to prevent just a second Champions League defeat in the past four seasons.

But the Spanish side got the job done in Germany three weeks ago.

"We didn't need to attack like crazy," said Atletico striker Antoine Griezmann. "We tried to see the game out at the back and that is what we did."

Another European reunion with Real is one of seven possible opponents for Atletico in the last eight.

Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Leicester City and Juventus are also in the hat for today's draw.

New Leverkusen boss Tayfun Korkut hailed Atletico's desire to defend as they secured their 17th clean sheet in their last 20 home Champions League games.

"There were many defenders throwing themselves to block the shots. You see how this team defends their goal. They are all there to put their foot or any part of their body on the line," said Korkut.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2017, with the headline 'Atletico gave their heart and soul, says Simeone'. Print Edition | Subscribe