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Simeone: Loss could have been worse

simeoneAtletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has said that he was relieved Bayer Leverkusen only scored one goal in their UEFA Champions League defeat on Wednesday in Germany.

Last season’s finalists were beaten 1-0 in the opening leg after Hakan Calhanoglu scored for the Bundesliga outfit the 57th minute and the Spanish champions were on the back foot for the last 14 minutes of the game following the sending-off of Tiago Mendes. Leverkusen dominated the encounter but could not add to their advantage.

“I’m happy with the result because seeing how the game developed it could have been worse,” Simeone told his club’s official website. “It was a strange game but neither side had many chances to score.

“Considering that I had to make two substitutions in the first half, that we had a goal disallowed, that we had to play a man down after Mendes’ sending-off, I am happy to leave with a 1-0 defeat.”

Simeone was forced to make two substitutions before the interval with Spanish midfielder Saul and Brazilian left-back Guilherme Siqueira picking up injuries. While Atletico were fortunate to escape with a 1-0 defeat, the hosts were also lucky that a Fernando Torres ‘goal’ in the 76th minute was turned down.

The fourth official ruled that the ball had gone out of play before Torres scored.

“The important thing is that we are still alive in the tie and we will have to turn things around in the return leg,” Simeone said.

Atletico take on Leverkusen on 17 March at the Vicente Calderon stadium having to do without defender Diego Godin and midfielder Tiago, both suspended. Simeone will be hoping to recover injured pair Saul and Siqueira.

“We have players that have been working hard in training and that can replace them,” Simeone said. “We have a competitive group that knows that everyone is needed in order to win games and achieve important things.”

Atletico return to La Liga action with an away game at Sevilla on Sunday.