Barcelona 1 Atletico Madrid 1: Diego Simeone 'very happy' after Champions League draw at the Nou Camp

Atletico manager says his team showed 'enormous heart' after quarter final first-leg

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone was proud of his players after they battled to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Atletico survived the loss of their top-scorer Diego Costa, who left the pitch when the game was just half an hour old with a hamstring injury, to take the lead 11 minutes into the second half when the forward's replacement Diego Ribas unleashed a rasping drive into the top corner.

Neymar equalised for the Catalans in the 71st minute and from then on Atletico were hanging on, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois making three vital saves from Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi before the final whistle sounded.

"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," Simeone told the post-match press conference.

"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."

The coach admitted Atleti were made to suffer in the final 20 minutes, but added: "This is the history of Atletico Madrid, always suffering, playing with their heart, never giving up, always keeping going.

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

Simeone could not give details on the extent of Costa's injury, but defended the decision to play the forward, who retired from training the day before the game after just five minutes.

"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 said.

But the former Atletico midfielder spoke of his delight for Diego Ribas, who before the match had had an uneasy two months since returning to the club on loan in January.

"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."

Meanwhile, Barca coach Gerardo Martino joked: "When I saw the ball go in I almost wanted to celebrate it, it was a tremendous goal."

The Argentinian also insisted he was pleased with his team's performance.

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

Midfielder Xavi, though, was less optimistic, telling Television Espanola: "I think that we deserved more and created more chances but they also played well.

"We struggled to create chances and we will have to try and score goals there [in Madrid] but this is not a great result for us."

While Atletico are likely to be without Costa for the return leg, Gerard Pique is certain to miss out, Barcelona confirming that the defender will be out of action for a month after suffering a hairline hip fracture during the game.

PA

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style