Simeone: Costa’s best performance since returning

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone praised the performance of Diego Costa after his side claimed a 2-0 lead against Sporting CP on Thursday night.

Simeone’s charges wasted no time in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first-leg clash at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, taking the lead after only 22 seconds when Koke scored after being teed up by Costa, Atleti’s fastest ever Europa League goal.

Antoine Griezmann then doubled the hosts’ lead in the 40th minute, which they successfully held on to, giving them a two-goal lead going into the second leg.

Despite not getting on the scoresheet himself, Costa was praised by Simeone for his hard work on the pitch. The Atletico boss also claimed that it was the striker’s best performance since returning to the club in January.

“This was his best game since he came back with us, he’s a beast, he was running all the time, putting pressure on the opponent, breaking his mark,” Simeone told the press, according to FourFourTwo.

“He participated in both of the goals, played great with the team, a very good game, his best game since he came back.”

Simeone added: “Well the thing is that you can never take something for granted in these tournaments. We’re used to seeing games in these kinds of tournaments that should be calm but they’re not because the teams are motivated and we saw that anything can happen in football. It’s true that 2-0 is an important score but we need to play the second leg the same way we played here today.

“I think that goal a few seconds after kick-off was the result of our will to go for the win from the first second.

“We prepared in advance to put them under strong pressure and push them in their own half of the field. Because of our great pressure, we scored two goals, we always tried to bother them when they had the ball, that made it easier for us. We did a great collective job, I think one of the best jobs this season.”