Atletico Madrid, Clubs, Story, UEFA Champions League

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone hailed Borussia Dortmund as “effective” and “superior” after Wednesday’s shock 4-0 Champions League Group A defeat in Germany, while pointing out his team were still on course to qualify for the last 16.

Dortmund deservedly went ahead just before the break when Axel Witsel’s shot deflected past a wrong-footed Jan Oblak. Simeone’s side pushed forward after the break, and hit the woodwork through Saul Niguez and substitute Angel Correa, but left huge gaps at the back which were punished by Dortmund replacements Raphael Guerreiro [twice] and Jadon Sancho.

After the worst defeat in any of Simeone’s 391 official matches as coach of Atletico, the Rojiblanco coach told Movistar Plus that Dortmund had to be saluted for how they took their chances, but the final scoreline had been harsh on his side.

“They were superior, the first half was very good in that nothing happened in the first half, except their goal,” Simeone said. “The second half we started very well, and were close to equalising before they made it 2-0. It is not that we played badly. They were effective, very quick and you have to salute them — every time they arrived in the box they scored a goal.”

Having beaten AS Monaco away and Club Brugge at home in their opening two group games, Atletico still should progress to the next round, however they will need to get revenge on Dortmund at home in a fortnight’s time to have any chance of going through as top seeds.

Simeone recalled that Atletico had dropped down to the Europa League after the group stages last year, saying that it was all important to make the round of 16, whether top or runners-up.

“We must work hard, to try and improve as we have always tried to do,” the Argentine said. “There is still many games left, we know how tough it is from last year, we want to go through, whether first or second.”

Atletico captain Diego Godin spoke on beIN Sports after the final whistle, and said his side could not blame misfortune for such a heavy defeat as they had “cracked” when a good start to the second half did not bring an equaliser.

“Maybe it was bad luck with the first goal, and we had managed the game well until then, but you cannot blame that in football,” Godin said. “In football you have to be effective and they were. Any mistake away from home you can pay for. We started the second half well, but then we cracked. We must improve. When things do not go for you, you must grit your teeth and accept the defeat. We must give more, all of us, and improve collectively.”

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