Diego Simeone hailed an “extraordinary” performance by Antoine Griezmann after his goal in the 1-0 win over Malaga moved Atletico Madrid to within six points of LaLiga leaders Barcelona.
Griezmann had been jeered by Atletico fans for slowing play down instead of looking for another goal towards the end of their 1-0 win over Valencia last time out.
He reacted angrily to those jeers but offered the perfect response in Saturday’s encounter at La Rosaleda, scoring what proved the decisive goal after only 38 seconds, earning Simeone his 150th league win as Atletico coach.
The France international celebrated by running to the sideline and holding up an Atletico jersey adorned with the name of Nacho Barbera, a child who recently died following a cardiac arrest in a youth match.
Barca will be expected to stretch their lead back to nine points against Getafe on Sunday but Simeone was still thrilled with the showing of France international Griezmann.
Simeone said: “We started very strong and scored a goal with which we could position ourselves in the match.
“It was an intense match, it always required commitment, we claimed a very important victory.
“He [Griezmann] is in a very good moment, he was extraordinary, he was everywhere, up, down, throwing himself, cutting balls [out].”
Asked about the gap to Barca, Simeone responded: “We do not look at the rival, we continue on our way, knowing that we have to play better.
“The team is renewed, continues with huge enthusiasm. Everyone has played many minutes, that is why we are where we are, because the team works well.”
Griezmann echoed the sentiments of his coach in regards to their efforts to make it a two-horse title race.
Asked if he would be watching the Barca game and hoping the Catalans slip up, Griezmann responded: “I won’t be watching it, I’ll spend some time with my daughter, take a break and prepare for the week to come.”