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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Diego Simeone won't blame schedule for Atletico Madrid loss to Sporting

The ESPN FC crew discuss the Champions League quarter-final draw and the showdown between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

Diego Simeone congratulated his Atletico Madrid players despite their disappointing 2-1 loss to Sporting Gijon, while adding that he felt his team should have probably been given an extra day's rest following a midweek Champions League clash with PSV Eindhoven.

Antoine Griezmann had Atleti in front early on, but a spirited fightback was in store from the hosts, starting with a goal from a free kick in the 79th minute from Sporting's Antonio Sanabria. 

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Atletico MadridAtletico Madrid
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Atleti were then forced to finish the match with 10 men, because defender Jose Gimenez went down injured after coach Simeone had made all three substitutions.

Sporting's Carlos Castro then completed the turnaround with a goal in the 89th minute, leaving Simeone flummoxed but not in search of excuses.

"We are pleased to be premium. We are premium because we played at 4 p.m. and we have been watched in China. So, I am delighted because we are premium," Simeone told his post-match news conference.

"But I do not like to look for excuses. We have always been aware of our goal. The aim of the club is to be third and we work in order to reach the club's goal. We know in terms of numbers this defeat make things much tougher in order to have any chance to be champions in La Liga."

Barcelona currently lead Atletico by eight points before visiting fourth-place Villarreal on Sunday.

"I congratulate my players, they have put in an enormous effort," Simeone said. "We gave everything we had but in the last 10 minutes they pressed a lot. Sporting have very good players, they have lacked a little luck but if they go on like this they will achieve their goal [of survival].

"I want to congratulate Sporting because they played very well. We had control in the first half, but in the second they pressed and in the last 10 minutes we could not get out of that pressure."

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