Atletico Madrid lost out on their best chance to edge past Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table, falling to a 2-1 deafeat after being reduced to 9 men. Manager Diego Simeone maintained after the match that his players did nothing wrong and applauded their fighting spirit.

Atletico took the lead through midfielder Koke 10 minutes into the match, but eventually conceded two goals as Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez took the game away from them. Diego Godin and Filipe Luis were shown red card either side of the half time break and this left Atletico in a tight spot.

However, manager Diego Simeone maintained after the match that he didn’t blame the two defenders for their actions and lauded the team’s spirit throughout the game.

“I’m proud of the team, we had a very good first half. We started with 10 in the second half and controlled the space and even with nine we kept our shape,” the Argentinean told reporters, according to fourfourtwo.com.

“You can win or lose but I am proud. I do not think about referees, I only speak of the teams. The sending-off of Filipe Luis was a reading of the situation and the referee saw what he saw… I have nothing to reproach Godin or Luis Filipe for. It is not easy to maintain that intensity. We made it to 25 minutes and we had good possession and did not suffer vertigo.”

Is the La Liga race over?

Simeone’s men were the biggest contenders against Barcelona in the race for the La Liga title, but the loss means that they have been dealt a huge blow to their title ambitions. The Argentine manager admitted as much after the match.

“Barcelona remain strong and are decisive in attack,” he added. “They have a game in hand and are leaders. There is plenty of the league to come but they rarely lose.”

After the win against Los Rojiblancos, Barca move 3 points clear at the top of the table, with 51 points and a game in hand.

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