Diego Simeone Says Cristiano Ronaldo Showed 'Character' in Copying CelebrationMarch 13, 2019
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone said he doesn't have a problem with Cristiano Ronaldo replicating his celebration following Juventus' remarkable comeback win in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
Ronaldo was in inspired form in Turin during the second leg of the last-16 showdown between the sides, as his hat-trick was enough to see Juve triumph 3-0 on the night and overturn the 2-0 deficit Atletico had earned from the first leg.
After Atletico scored their second goal in the first leg, Simeone grabbed his crotch in celebration, saying later it was in reference to the fact his team had shown "a lot of balls" to win. It was an action Ronaldo copied at the end of Tuesday's game:
When asked about the forward's imitation of his celebration after the match, Simeone said he didn't have an issue, per Danny Gallagher of the MailOnline.
"He will have seen how I did it at the Wanda Metropolitano and, like me, was trying to show his character," said the Atletico boss. "Ronaldo is the best in the world, he can put in these performances on big nights."
As Gallagher noted, Simeone was hit with a UEFA charge and a £17,000 fine for the explicit celebration in the first leg of the contest.
Although Simeone was not bothered by Ronaldo's actions after the game, he would have been disappointed by the manner in which his side caved in in Turin. Here are the highlights from yet another incredible comeback in this year's tournament (U.S. only):
Under Simeone, Atletico have become renowned for their defensive cohesion and aggression, so few expected them to fold like they did on Tuesday.
Not only did they lose Ronaldo twice from crosses into the box, they failed to react to a smart game plan from manager Massimiliano Allegri, who pummelled the La Liga side in wide areas. To cap off a disappointing night, Angel Correa inexplicably pushed Federico Bernardeschi in the penalty box late on, allowing Ronaldo to complete his hat-trick and send Juve through.
Simeone and his Atletico players will be sick of the sight of the Juventus No. 7, as he tormented them frequently during his time as a Real Madrid player, too. In the Champions League, he's constantly got the better of them:
BT Sport Football provided some more context behind the striker's extraordinary goalscoring:
Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball
Cristiano Ronaldo records & stats just tonight! 1️⃣ FIRST ever player to score 125 UEFA club competition goals 2️⃣ Has been involved in 77 UCL knockout goals in 77 games 3️⃣ Scored 25 goals in 33 career appearances vs Atletico 4️⃣ Joint-most UCL hat-tricks, with Lionel Messi (8) 🤯 https://t.co/XxQaFr00MA
Ronaldo showed there is still a fire in his belly on Tuesday. For a 34-year-old who has already achieved so much in the game, it's to his credit there's still such desire in his play.
Simeone will be left to reflect on a disappointing night for his side in Europe and will wake up on Wednesday wondering quite how his side have been foiled again by the iconic Portuguese.