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Simeone on hurtful Champions League exit

Diego Simeone has opened up about his side’s Champions League exit, saying it is not the end for the Spanish club.

Heading into the game at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening, Diego Simeone’s side knew they had it all to do to qualify and had to rely on a result in the Roma-Qarabag game.

A 1-0 lead thanks to Saul Niguez gave the Spanish side hope, but Roma’s opener over in Italy saw their chances of qualification turn into nothing short of a miracle.

The Italian side held on to their lead and secured all three points, whilst Eden Hazard found an equaliser for Chelsea.

Their exit leaves a bitter taste after reaching two finals in recent seasons, meaning focus now turns to the Europa League, a competition they have won on two occasions.

Simeone, who has been the leader of many Atleti successes, has now reflected on the game and said that his side will bounce back from their latest disappointment.

“It hurts because of how wonderful football can be,” the Coach said after the 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

“We’ve been eliminated after picking up more points from the top team than the bottom! We won’t look for excuses and take responsibility.

“The game against Qarabag, hitting the target 10 times without scoring, is difficult to explain.

“Still, I’m left with the feeling, beyond this bad situation, that the team will compete for the League, Copa and Europa League.

“Football is more than tactics, possession and set-pieces. We weren’t ruthless enough and we paid for that.

“Still, the team are competitive, we only lost one game and it was in the 93rd minute. They’re not excuses, it’s reality, but there’s still a lot of the season left and we’ll be judged on what we do at the end of the season.

“Motivation for the Europa League? It’s the same when we play in a friendly, the Copa, the Supercopa…

“Playing with Atletico’s jersey is enough motivation. We don’t need the title of a competition.

“Failure? No, it was a situation that could happen. Failure is when you don’t fulfil something that you think you can

“There’s still a long way to go and we’re fine, even if it’s difficult to say that we are when we’re out of the Champions League.

“End of a cycle? No. On the contrary, this has opened up a new challenge and source of enthusiasm for us to keep fighting. Everything that’s bad is good for us.”

Elsewhere, on Tuesday – Barcelona beat Sporting Lisbon 2-0 thanks to goals from Paco Alcacer and a Jeremy Mathieu own goal.

The Catalan side had already qualified for the next round and chose to leave Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi on the bench at the Camp Nou.

Real Madrid and Sevilla finish off their group games on Wednesday evening, meeting Dortmund and Maribor, respectively.

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