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Simeone open to all-Spanish quarterfinal

Updated: 2014-03-13 08:29
( China Daily)

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone welcomed the possibility of meeting La Liga rivals Real Madrid or Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the Champions League after his side thrashed AC Milan 4-1 in the second leg of its last-16 tie on Wednesday to progress 5-1 on aggregate.

It is the first time since Simeone was an Atletico player back in 1997 that Los Rojiblancos have reached the last eight of the Champions League and the Argentine insists they must enjoy the experience no matter who they are paired with.

"We will wait until the opponent comes out of the hat. It doesn't bother me at all if it is a Spanish team.

"We will continue with humility as we always do and you can't choose who you play. All we can do is relax and recuperate."

Already leading 1-0 from the first leg three weeks ago, Atletico made a fast start and went in front on three minutes through an acrobatic effort from Diego Costa.

Kaka's headed equalizer 24 minutes later briefly gave Milan hope of a comeback, but Arda Turan's deflected effort restored Atletico's lead before halftime.

And goals in the final 20 minutes from Raul Garcia and Costa once more rounded off a glorious evening for the host.

"We started better and it seemed like the tie was well on track, but then they grew into the game. We weren't getting to them on the wings and it complicated things for us.

Simeone open to all-Spanish quarterfinal

"It was not so much the second goal, but the third goal that allowed us to relax because it was then very difficult to come back in the tie."

Milan boss Clarence Seedorf congratulated Atletico on a deserved win over the two legs, but lamented his side's luck as Arda's deflected goal came when it was having a good spell.

"Congratulations to Atletico, they deserved this victory, especially in the second half.

"We lost control of the game. Their second goal arrived when we were having our best spell in the game, but that is football."

Seedorf has only been in charge of the seven-time European champion since January as he replaced sacked Massimiliano Allegri.

The Rossoneri's season is now effectively over as they lie 11th in Serie A, nine points off the European places.

And the former Dutch international admitted he now has to build the side with an eye to returning Milan to its former glory next season.

"I arrived to help and improve the situation. Next season we will build something new and better. This year everything started badly and now we are trying to fill the holes.

"There will be a natural change in the side. We still have 11 games left and we need to get as many points as possible to finish the season with dignity."

- Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 03/13/2014 page23)