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Aug 22, 2014

Simeone sorry for hitting official

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone apologised for tapping the back of the head of the fourth official during his side's 1-0 second leg Spanish Super Cup win over neighbours Real Madrid.

- Three Points: Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid
- Lowe: Can Atletico repeat as champions?

Simeone was sent to the stands midway through the first half by referee David Fernandez Borbalan for angry sideline protests, with the Argentine coach twice tapping (or lightly slapping) the head of fourth official Antonio Santos Pargana with an open hand as he left the technical area.

The Argentine was enraged -- as were most of the home fans inside the stadium -- as Fernandez Borbalan had not allowed Juanfran Torres back onto the pitch quickly after the right-back had received treatment after being kneed in the face by Fabio Coentrao. Atletico were 1-0 ahead at the time, and Madrid almost equalised while the Atletico defence was a man down for about three minutes.

Speaking in his post-match news conference the coach admitted there were no excuses for his actions.

"When you make a mistake you apologise, although what you should do is not make the mistake," Simeone said. "My apologies. I went over the top in my request for Juanfran to return quickly."

Even without their coach on the line, a much-changed Atletico side were full value for their win. There were impressive displays from all four new summer signings who started the game, including goalscorer Mario Mandzukic, while the commitment and intensity which fuelled last season's successes looked to be still intact.

Diego Simeone was sent to the stands after putting his hands on the fourth official on Friday.

Simeone said the new arrivals were still settling into Atletico's particular style of play, and there remained plenty of room for improvement.

"These players are not the same as those of last year and they will give me different performances," he said "They have other characteristics. They are improving a bit, as that is important for the group. Miguel [Moya] is improving. Today, Guilhermo [Siqueira] played a good game, he will get better with more minutes. This was the best game of [Mario] Mandzukic, but he is not Diego Costa. Griezmann came into the game well in the second half when we needed him, but he is not Villa. But we have changed four players in the team. They will have to adapt to another style of play, as quickly as possible, so that the team keeps improving."

Simeone said that Atletico's lightning-fast start, and more attacking approach throughout than in last Tuesday's 1-1 first leg at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, had been part of the plan.

"In a tie like this you try and play it to have your chances in the second game," he said. "In the first game we made a big effort, without having many chances or that much of the ball in the Bernabeu. [Today] with the presence of Griezmann and more play in the centre of the park, we had more possession. Which meant more chance to attack. In the second half we could have made it even better on the break."

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However Simeone claimed a repeat of last season's La Liga title success was not going to happen.

"When you play in a league so long, of so many dates, against teams like Barcelona and Madrid, it is very difficult to win," he said. "In one game, or in a knock out tie, you can win as it is a game of football. But in a league so long it is so extraordinary. Barcelona did not have a good year last year but got to last game with a chance to win. Madrid did not start well last season. It was a situation very difficult to repeat."

Finally the Argentine coach found time to again poke fun at Madrid's current squad overbooking issues, by saying that he would take Angel Di Maria if the Argentina winger was no longer wanted at the Bernabeu.

"Di Maria is a player who I would like to have with us," Simeone said.

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