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Nov 19, 2012

Atletico keep pace with Barcelona

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has praised his side's resilience after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Granada kept them in touch with La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Arda Turan scored the only goal of the match in the 61st minute, with Atletico forced to withstand a late flurry of pressure from Granada following Mario Suarez's dismissal.

The win keeps Atletico in second place, just three points behind Barca and Simeone hailed a strong defensive effort against desperate opposition.

"We knew what was going to happen in the first half and could not control it," he said. "I think the first half Granada played well, with aggressiveness, intensity and winning the second balls, creating difficulties for the left and up the middle.

"Without actually having clear scoring situations, they looked a top team in the development of the game. We talked in the changing room and we understood what we had to do. The presence of Diego Costa led us to have more chances to go out and fight [for] the second ball in a match that had looked to play that way.

"From there came the quality of players like Arda and Koke who moved to win the match. Granada made it very complicated but in the second half the ream reacted. Playing a second half like that and reacting as they did is very important. They are a very dangerous team that is not having the luck they deserve on the pitch."

Atletico's December fixture list has the potential to change their season, with matches against Barcelona and Real Madrid giving them the chance to stake their title credentials.

Simeone believes the performance against Granada holds them in good stead to finish the year with a string of positive results.

"The way the team work, how to understand the situation and the timing of the match led us to take three very imoprtants for the championship," he said. "The reaction I had from the team in the second half is the most important thing that I took from today.

"When a team understands it's wrong, you have to react and react as we did is a step forward as a team. The reaction of the second half was an important step for us."

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