It’s easy to be magnanimous in victory but, having knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League, Diego Simeone reflected on how the away goals rule gave his team an unfair advantage in extra time.
With Liverpool leading Atletico Madrid 1-0 at the end of 90 minutes, the scores were level on aggregate and another half an hour of play was needed to separate the two sides.
In normal time, the home side had been pushing to win outright whereas the visitors seemed content to hold on against ceaseless waves of attack.
They were indebted to another excellent performance from Jan Oblak to keep the scoreline down, as the Slovenian goalkeeper made a series of fine saves to deny Liverpool.
In extra time, Roberto Firmino headed onto the post before turning home the rebound to put Liverpool 2-1 up on aggregate, but substitute Marcos Llorente capitalised on Adrian’s mistake to hit back, changing the whole dynamic of the tie.
Suddenly Liverpool needed another goal to progress, and that became two and then three as Llorente and Alvaro Morata ruthlessly extended Atletico’s lead.
“What I have to say, and will be saying at the next UEFA coaches’ meeting, is what I think is unfair,” said Simeone in the aftermath of a memorable win that eliminated the reigning champions.
“Today was unjust because we had 30 minutes of extra time to score three away goals. Liverpool never had that. We had 30 more minutes to score an away goal and Liverpool didn’t. That’s not fair.
“The rule favoured us today but it might go against us in the future. Liverpool had 30 minutes fewer to score an away goal. That’s wrong.”
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Sean Cole is a freelance journalist. He has written for FourFourTwo, BBC Sport and When Saturday Comes among others. A Birmingham City supporter and staunch Nikola Zigic advocate, he once scored a hat-trick at St. Andrew’s (in a half-time game). He also has far too many football shirts and spends far too much time reading the Wikipedia pages of obscure players.