Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone praised his team after they sealed a place in Champions League round of 16 with a 2-0 win over Monaco, as opposite number Thierry Henry called him “a reference for all coaches.”
Koke put Atleti ahead with a deflected strike after 90 seconds, Antoine Griezmann adding a second from close range midway through the first half before Radamel Falcao missed an 82nd-minute penalty.
Atleti must wait until the final round of games to see whether they or Borussia Dortmund top the group.
“The game in general was very good by the team for the first 70 minutes,” Simeone told his postmatch news conference. “We knew how to start the game, press them, find space and do them damage.
“We maybe lacked a bit of energy after Saturday’s game [at home to Barcelona] and in the last part of the game the opponent grew. Falcao gave them something extra, and the game was a bit more difficult.
“Until now we have had a very good UCL campaign, apart from the game at Dortmund. We have to wait and see how the last games go and who we get in the draw.
“That the final is here [at the Wanda Metropolitano] is not something we think about — that is a long way away.”
Griezmann told Movistar TV Atleti had “done the important thing” by sealing qualification.
“On a personal level, I am happy and enjoying my football,” he said. “It’s true we relaxed at the end, but we will stick with the good first half we played.”
Meanwhile, Henry said the way his struggling Monaco, with four teenagers in the starting lineup, had played in the second half was cause for optimism.
“For me it is all positive what is happening right now,” he said. “I am not complaining, but to have so many young players for a game like this is not easy.
“We were a bit timid in the first half, but in the second we were pretty good. You never know what might have happened if we had scored the penalty. But the way we played, regardless of the age of the players, I am trying to be positive.
“I have a lot to learn, and Simeone is a reference for all coaches. I saw him at 2-0 up, shouting at his team to get back, to defend, and we saw Griezmann coming back to stop counters on the left, the right. What he gets from his players is incredible.”