Diego Simeone paid tribute to his Atletico Madrid players after overcoming numerous obstacles in their chaotic 4-3 LaLiga win over Getafe on Saturday.
The two teams played out an especially remarkable first half, which included six goals and a missed penalty by Luis Suarez.
Atletico were initially 2-0 up but then found themselves 3-2 down, with Borja Mayoral and a pair of Enes Unal penalties doing the damage.
Angel Correa got his second of the day just before the break to level the score, but Atletico received another blow when Felipe was sent off for a high and wild challenge on Mauro Arambarri.
The drama did not end there, however. Just when Atletico looked happy to play out for a draw, three substitutes linked up.
Rodrigo De Paul’s deep free-kick was headed back across goal by Joao Felix, and Mario Hermoso was on hand to acrobatically turn in at the second time of asking.
Simeone struggled to make sense of the epic encounter but did praise Atletico’s response.
“It’s difficult to explain a match that had several mini-matches in it,” he told reporters. “If you value how many times they’ve had a shot on goal, they are very few.
“There are times when adversity has to be overcome and once again those moments appeared: the missed penalty, going from 2-0 up to 3-2 down, and then the red card gave us a difficult match.
“Once again the hearts of the boys responded in an extraordinary way. Those who came on, De Paul, [Hector] Herrera, Joao… did so with a passion that was what we needed.”
But while the dramatic nature of such a victory led to joyous scenes and took them back up to fourth, the match once again highlighted Atletico’s defensive issues.
Two penalties were conceded for handball; Mayoral reacted quicker than the defence for his goal; and Felipe’s red card came as a direct consequence of Stefan Savic’s heavy touch just inside his own half.
It was the sixth successive game in which Atletico have conceded at least twice, while the three concessions took their overall LaLiga tally for 2021-22 to 33 – that surpassed their previous worst record for an entire season under Simeone (31 in 2012-13).
Yet Simeone did not seem overly concerned – at least not in the context of this match.
“The first goal is a good play for them, but the two subsequent penalties… there were no threatening plays. If you’re looking for a save from Oblak, there wasn’t any,” he said.
“Hopefully we are already passing this situation of adversity.”
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