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Martino: I Almost Celebrated Atletico’s Goal

Barcelona coach, Gerardo Martino, was happy with his side’s performance in the Champions League on Tuesday, and admitted he was stunned by the opening goal of Atletico’s Diego.

Despite losing their main striker, Diego Costa, after 30 minutes due to a hamstring injury, the visitors took the lead 11 minutes into the second half when Costa-replacement, Diego Ribas, scored with a amazing shot from 35m.

"When I saw the ball go in I almost wanted to celebrate it, it was a tremendous goal," Martino said.

The Argentine was satisfied with his side’s display, after Neymar equalised for the Catalans in the 71st minute and a couple of heroic saves by Thibaut Courtois kept the score-line level.

"The way Barca played fills me with pride," he added.

"Sometimes it paid off, other times it didn't, but if we keep playing this way we will have every chance of success.

"I'm very happy with how we played, we deserved to score another goal.

“We maintained intensity over the 90 minutes and we didn't allow Atleti to play in space, we created more chances and their only chances came from a bad pass and a goal from 35 metres."

Martino’s counterpart, Diego Simeone, also heaped praise on goal-scorer, Diego, who has been experiencing two difficult months since returning to the club.

"I was in a perfect position on the touchline and when he took the shot I knew it was going in. I felt pure joy," said Simeone.

"The team needed Diego to demonstrate what he is worth and he did that, and he also needed to demonstrate his worth to everyone else.

"I'm delighted for him because he's been working so hard in silence and today was an example that hard work always pays off in football."

Atletico proved their resilience and capability of keeping up with the best teams, and their hard work ethic pleased Simeone.

"I'm very happy with this team, this was the most decisive game of the two years I've been at the club and we are still going, showing enormous heart, and the way we fought makes me so proud, and I'm sure the fans are proud too," the Argentine continued.

"I'm delighted we were able to compete with Barcelona, you don't earn the right to do that in a day, you earn it with hard work and today we showed we can compete with them.

"This group of players has huge heart. More than the result, here or in the return leg, this is what makes me proud."

Simeone didn’t give details on Diego Costa’s injury, but confirmed it was independent from the problem which almost kept his striker side-lined before the game.

"The injury he received wasn't the one he had before, he received so many knocks it's difficult to know where it came from," he added.

While Costa stands a small chance to feature in the return leg next week, Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique, will definitely miss the tie after his club confirmed that the defender will be out of action for a month with a hairline hip fracture.

Which of the two Spanish sides are your favourites to go through? Have your say in the comment section below.


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