Champions League

Atletico still hopeful - Simeone

2015-02-26 12:49
Diego Simeone (Gallo Images)

Leverkusen - Diego Simeone insists his Atletico Madrid can turn things around for their Champions League last 16 return-leg clash in Spain after suffering a shock 1-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen.

The Germans have one foot in the quarter-finals for the first time since reaching the 2002 Champions League final after Hakan Calhanoglu's superb second-half goal gives them a slender advantage.

Atletico finished with ten men at Leverkusen's BayArena.

Defensive midfielder Tiago was sent off for the final quarter of an hour for a second booking while centre-back Diego Godin is also suspended for the return leg after a second-half yellow card.

Simeone also has injury worries having been forced into two changes before the break when both right winger Saul Niguez and right-back Guilherme Siqueira came off injured.

"Leverkusen could have decided the match if they had scored again, so we can live with the situation and we still have a good chance at home," said Atletico coach Simeone.

"We have to be positive in the return leg, we had our chances, but it wasn't our night.

"They had us under a lot of pressure and made things hard for us.

"We didn't combine well, Leverkusen won more than their share of possession and we couldn't get our game going.

"Diego and Tiago are suspended for the return leg and we have a lot of injuries, but we still have a lot of hope."

Bayer, the 2002 Champions League finalists, edge closer to breaking their last 16 jinx having failed to pass this stage of the competition in their last three previous attempts.

Roger Schmidt's Leverkusen ended their three-match winless streak in the Bundesliga in style by stunning the 2014 finalists.


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