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Simeone grateful to gutsy players

Madrid: Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said the way his gutsy players reacted to the challenge posed by their Champions League semi-final opponents Chelsea will be remembered for a long time.

Atletico fought back after trailing by a goal to beat Chelsea 3-1 on Wednesday in the second leg of the semis and secure their place in the final to be played in Lisbon on May 24.

“The reaction of the team will stick in people’s memories,” said the Argentine, who was known as a never-say-die player during his career at Atletico and various clubs in Spain and Italy.

“The players took control of the pitch against a powerful team, with a lot of history in the Champions League, and that makes me very pleased. We have to be grateful for their efforts because without them we could not have experienced what we are.”

Real, the record winners with nine continental titles, will be playing their 13th final, while Atletico have featured only once, a reverse to Bayern Munich forty years ago.

They will become the first two teams from the same city to contest any European final. “Everyone here in Madrid is happy,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti told a television channel after Atletico joined his side in the final.

“Those who have experienced these things know that there are no favourites in a final,” added the Italian, in his first season in charge at Real. “It is going to be a very balanced match.” (Reuters)