Gerardo Martino Almost Celebrated Diego's Goal for Atletico Against Barcelona

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2014

Atletico's Diego Ribas, celebrates his goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Atletico de Madrid and  Real Sociedad at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Andres Kudacki

Played at its finest, the game of football can be so beautiful it becomes performance art, and the opening goal from Atletico Madrid's Diego during Tuesday's Champions League match against Barcelona was so stunning it nearly made the opposing team's coach celebrate.

ESPN quoted Gerardo Martino saying: "When I saw the ball go in I almost wanted to celebrate it, it was a tremendous goal."

Diego collected the ball on the right side of the pitch before unleashing a devastating strike towards the Barcelona goal, with the ball spinning straight into the top corner. Backup goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto did all he could and even got a finger on the ball, but Diego's blast was simply too powerful to be denied:

Diego Simeone, who introduced the goalscorer to the field to replace the injured Diego Costa, similarly praised the midfielder for his fine efforts, both in scoring the goal and his overall performance:

I was in a perfect position on the touchline and when he took the shot I knew it was going in. I felt pure joy.


The team needed Diego to demonstrate what he is worth and he did that, and he also needed to demonstrate his worth to everyone else.

I'm delighted for him because he's been working so hard in silence and today was an example that hard work always pays off in football.

Neymar netted an equaliser for the hosts, in a match that marked the fourth consecutive time both teams battled to a draw this season. Next week's return leg promises to be another tense affair and both sides could be missing key players going into that encounter.

Messi 10 Stats confirmed Gerard Pique will be out for four weeks with a hairline fracture to the pelvis:

Graham Hunter, meanwhile, knows Atletico have yet to give a statement on the severity of the injury to Costa and what it will mean for his availability going forward:

Atletico's Simeone defended his decision to play Costa, after the striker was forced to abandon a practice session the day before the game. The coach claimed Costa's injury wasn't linked to the knock he received during training:

"The injury he received wasn't the one he had before, he received so many knocks it's difficult to know where it came from."

Both teams will square off again on Wednesday April 9, with a Champions League semi-final berth at stake.