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Feb 15, 2013

Simeone takes blame for Europa loss

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has taken responsibility for the decision to send goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo forward for an injury-time corner, which led directly to Rubin Kazan claiming an unlikely 2-0 win in their Europa League last 32 first leg at the Estadio Vicente Calderon on Thursday.

Holders Atletico went 1-0 down to an early Gokdeniz Karadeniz strike and were unable to score despite playing the entire second half against ten men, after visiting captain Roman Sharonov was sent off.

Simeone waved keeper Asenjo forward for the 94th-minute corner in the hope of finally finding an equaliser, but the ball was cleared and the visitors broke quickly before Rubin's Basque midfielder Pablo Orbaiz was able to knock the ball into an empty net.

The Colchoneros boss told reporters after the game that he had assumed the corner would be the last play of the game, and his side needed a goal to have a better chance in next week's second leg in Russia.

"[The blame is] all mine," Simeone said. "I thought the game was over. 1-1 would have given us a more realistic chance. Football is a game of risks. This time it went badly."

Asenjo, who tried in vain to race back and hack down Orbaiz before he could score, confirmed that he had been told to go forward from the sideline.

"A player cannot make that decision," he said. "The boss was gesturing really strongly, it was the last play of the game. Then the ref let another 40 seconds go so they could score the goal. It was all very quick and everyone thought he was going to whistle, but he let it go for the end which we all know now."

The defeat was even more shocking as Atletico had won their last 20 games in all competitions at the Calderon, and each of their last 12 matches in European competition, home and away.

Asked what chance Atletico now had of overturning the deficit in next Thursday's second leg at Mosow's Stadion Luzhniki, Simeone was short and to the point.

"Very little," he said.

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