Diego Simeone declared himself proud of his Atletico Madrid players after their Champions League campaign again came to an end at the hands of Real Madrid.
Atletico needed to overcome a 3-0 first-leg deficit and appeared on course for a stunning comeback after early goals from Saul and Antoine Griezmann.
But Isco’s strike before half-time effectively ended the tie and a 4-2 aggregate success sent Real to a third final in four seasons.
Both of their previous finals ended in victories against Atletico, while they also knocked their city rivals out in the 2015 quarter-finals.
Despite another setback in the last European game to be staged at the Vicente Calderon, Atletico boss Simeone had nothing but praise for his players.
“Those first 30 minutes will be in the history of the stadium and the people,” he said. “It was an extraordinary game and there was great quality on show from so many players in our team.
“We have to be proud of the players. They kept hope, showing we weren’t talking for the sake of talking but because we believed.
“It’s a shame we can’t clone players like [Diego] Godin or Gabi, as they give their life to this club.”
Despite heavy rain, Atletico fans stayed to cheer their team long after the final whistle and the players returned from the changing rooms several minutes after the game to greet the supporters.
“It was a Champions League semi-final against a great opponent,” added Simeone. “They made things difficult for us in their stadium, but our team demonstrated why we have been competing the way we have for so many years.
“We believed we could do it and we were close to winning the tie. We set the tie up well, but their goal hurt us a lot.”
Source: Sky Sports