Champions League: Getting to Last 16 is never easy, feels Atletico boss Diego Simeone
Atletico Madrid manager Diego heaves a sigh of relief after 2-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow assures qualification for knockout stage
Madrid: Atletico Madrid lifted the gloom by qualifying for the Champions League Last 16 on Wednesday after they beat Lokomotiv Moscow 2-0 to finish runners-up in Group D. Kieran Trippier missed an early penalty at the Wanda Metropolitano but a second Atletico spot-kick gave the lively Joao Felix another chance and he made no mistake.
"Joao is growing, he gives a huge number of things to the team," said Diego Simeone afterwards. "But we need to improve the chemistry between our forwards, we need to make it even better to finish off more chances."
Felipe's acrobatic volley shortly after half-time put a poor Lokomotiv side out of sight and ensured Atletico go through ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, who lost to group winners Juventus. "Getting to the Last 16 is never easy but we have done it again," Simeone added. Finishing second in this season's competition almost guarantees a formidable opponent in the knock-out stages, with Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Liverpool and Leipzig all now lying in wait in Monday's draw.
Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix celebrates scoring against Lokomotiv Moscow during the Champions League tie in Spain. Pic/Getty Images
In theory, Leipzig, or a stumbling Bayern, might be the kindest options but Atletico will likely have to find a different rhythm by February if they are to avoid crashing out at the same stage as last year.
it was a morale-boosting victory that spared Simeone's side any further damage after defeat against Barcelona and a draw away at Villarreal have all-but ended their La Liga title challenge before Christmas.
"We needed this in the Champions League," said Simeone. "For the fans, for the club and for us."
The qualified teams
- Atalanta (ITA)
- Atletico Madrid (ESP)
- Barcelona (ESP)
- Bayern Munich (GER)
- Borussia Dortmund (GER)
- Chelsea (ENG)
- Juventus (ITA)
- Liverpool (ENG)
- Lyon (FRA)
- Manchester City (ENG)
- Napoli (ITA)
- Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
- RB Leipzig (GER)
- Real Madrid (ESP)
- Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
- Valencia (ESP)
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