Diego Simeone hails 'enormous effort' for Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone hailed the emotional boost given by his team's Estadio Vicente Calderon crowd after Tuesday evening's 8-7 penalty shootout progress past PSV Eindhoven to the Champions League quarterfinals.
Simeone's side had dominated possession over the 120 minutes but a very well organised PSV side gave up few clear chances -- with visiting goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet three times denying Antoine Griezmann when the home team did come close.
Atletico right-back Juanfran Torres kept his nerve to score the winning penalty after PSV's Luciano Narsingh was the only player on either side to miss from the spot even into sudden death.
Another famous European night at the crumbling Calderon had begun with Atletico's players greeted with a banner proclaiming "Never stop believing," and the Colchoneros coach told his postgame news conference that everyone involved with the club fed off such positive energy.
"I'm very happy for the last penalty by Juan," Simeone said. "Behind that goal there is an enormous effort -- from the players, coaching staff, medical staff, fans who push us forward.
"We are so happy to be with Atletico Madrid going to the quarters. We will keep going on the same way. We finished the game with many kids -- Lucas [Hernandez], Saul [Niguez], [Antoine] Griezmann.
"The stadium was marvellous at the start, tremendous, and we will not stop believing, for sure."
Simeone admitted the game had been tense, as he and PSV counterpart Phillip Cocu had been aware that one mistake from either side could prove decisive.
"There was tension," he said. "There is always the feeling of a lot of anxiety, above all in first half of the game, the team was anxious and imprecise. They changed their system from usual 4-3-3 and were waiting for a mistake to break or score at set-piece. Whoever committed a mistake would go out, neither team made that error, and penalties went for us."
Atletico have now only scored twice in their last six Champions League knockout games, with their only progresses coming via penalties now against PSV and last year at the same stage against Bayer Leverkusen.
"I would prefer ties like against Milan [two years ago], winning away and then at home," Simeone said. "It was tough for us last year, and again this year so far. [PSV] changed their system to come here, they were not as attacking, very ordered. For me it was a real Cup tie, very thought out, whoever went wrong was going to lose."
Atletico's players converted all eight of their penalties, but Simeone said this was not because of a lot of preparation having been done beforehand, just the right takers being chosen by assistant coach German Burgos.
"We had not really practiced penalties -- as it is much different taking them in front of the wire [at training ground] or with all the fans here and the 120 minutes in their legs," he said. "It is about hierarchy and making decisions. German decided against Leverkusen [last year] and did it again today. I congratulate his choices, as it's never easy to decide."