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Mar 11, 2014

Simeone praises Atletico work rate

Diego Simeone says playing as a team has been the key to Atletico Madrid's success this season.

Horncastle: Diegos inspire
Paul: Question AC Milan's future
Champions League gallery

The Atletico manager was thrilled after his club moved past AC Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday.

A Diego Costa brace sparked Atletico into the Champions League quarter-finals.

In addition to reaching the quarter-finals in Europe, Atletico are neck and neck with Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

"We are happy with the work the lads did over the last two-and-a-half years," Simeone told Sky Sport Italia. "We play as a team and I think that is our greatest strength, knowing our limitations and our strong points."

Diego Costa, whose two goals bookended the victory, agreed with his manager.

"If I am where I am, it's because the team helped get me here. I could never have achieved this on my own," the striker said after taking his Champions League tally to seven goals. "I just try to help the team."

Atletico's near 50,000 fans provided the Spanish club with extra pep throughout, but especially at the start when the hosts dominated a Milan team that seemed a step behind.

"We started strong and then had to change," Simeone said. "I knew that if we kept the ball on the right then we could do well."

Kaka scored in the first half for Milan, but after that Atletico were careful to keep possession and were able to prevent Milan from mounting a late rally.

"I agree, before their goal we had started to relax, but afterwards we spent around 10 minutes without pressing, without getting the ball back and without calm," Simeone added. That was what we lacked at that time, the calm to cover the spaces and hold the field properly.

"I spoke to the team at half-time and after that I think everyone regained their calm.

"We suffered a little and Milan grew, but after the second goal we started pressing higher up the field and that caused Milan more problems.

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