Diego Simeone praised Fernando Torres’ big-game mentality after the striker scored twice as Atletico Madrid knocked city rivals Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.
Torres, who returned to boyhood club Atleti on loan from Milan earlier this month, netted in the first minute of each half at The Santiago Bernabeu to see Simeone’s men progress 4-2 on aggregate after the 2-2 draw.
Real equalised twice through Sergio Ramos and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, but the hosts’ efforts proved in vain as Atletico secured a quarter-final tie with Barcelona.
And Simeone was quick to pay tribute to Torres following his first and second goals at the Bernabeu.
“When he came out the cantera [academy] he was a young guy, too young for everything that happened, but he responded well,” Simeone said in quotes reported by AS.
“He left, he grew up. Now he’s a man and I’m very happy for him. He responds to games like this. The fans are happy.
“His arrival so far is doing us good, although some people doubted it.”
Although Simeone was eager to laud Torres, he felt the result came thanks an impressive team display.
“The collective work was the highlight, always. Not any individual returns,” he added.
“We’re happy. We wanted to play an intelligent game and we needed to take our chances with our quick forwards. The goals came early.
“We suffered more in the first half than in the second, when we played a very good game.
“We played against the best team in the world, the world champions and Champions League winners, in a great stadium, which was full.
“They put on all the pressure in the first half. They did well. We defended deep but we did well.”
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