Atletico Madrid never stopped believing, deserved to win - Simeone
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said his team had never stopped believing and stuck to their plan after his team beat Barcelona 2-0 on the night to progress 3-2 on aggregate to the Champions League semifinals.
Simeone's side came into the game angry after last week's 2-1 first-leg defeat at the Camp Nou, but were ahead on away goals before half-time thanks to Antoine Griezmann's fine header.
Atletico's defence stood firm through the second half as Barca's superstar front three were well shackled, and Griezmann's penalty late on confirmed that for the second time in three years the Catalan side had been eliminated at the Calderon in the UCL's last eight.
The Colchoneros coach told his postmatch news conference that his team had known what they wanted to do over the 90 minutes, and even when Barca came on stronger in the second half they had stuck together and seen out the game.
"We never stopped believing, we work knowing the situation, knowing what we can do," Simeone said. "In the first half, the game was more like what we wanted. In the second half it was closer to what they wanted.
"They had individuals who could break the game open, but we stayed together and stayed strong. It was difficult for us in the second half, but we kept playing very well, did not leave our plan. Every ball we went for was like the last."
Simeone hailed the "ordinary worker" values that he says run through his team which does not have the superstars of Europe's other top sides.
"We were up against a very good opponent, with great history, and with players who can change the game in any moment," he said. "I am happy for the players who come together in this team, I do not just think about a pass to the semifinals, it is more important than that. There are fewer values in society all the time, but we are a group of honest workers who can win or lose.
"We make ourselves strong with the tools we have. We believe a lot in life values -- respect, perseverance, pick yourself up in difficulties, compete, keep going. Today, once again, we have won a tremendously difficult game, but a very nice game."
Atletico now go into Friday's semifinal draw with neighbours Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, with Simeone saying his team would again be up against it whoever they got in the last four.
"We never have anything easy," Simeone said. "Man City have enormous economic power, extraordinary players, Madrid, Bayern, the history they have. They are all great teams for us. But for Atletico Madrid to be among the four best in Europe is a big step, now we can do more.
"Now I am not thinking about anything else other than Granada [in La Liga on Sunday evening], for sure."
There was almost further late drama in the game, with Barca denied a penalty when an apparent handball by Atletico captain Gabi was ruled to have taken place just outside the box, and Lionel Messi sent the free kick just wide.
Gabi told BeIn Sports after the game that he could not say whether he had been lucky or not in this incident, but overall his team had deserved to progress.
"Yes, there was a hand," Gabi said. "I am on the line, it hits me in the hand. The referee whistled it outside, I don't know if the hand was inside or outside. Sometimes they go for you, sometimes they don't. But we cannot focus on just this one incident, we deserved to go through."