Diego Simeone took a swipe at the Liga schedulers for staging Atletico Madrid’s clash with Sporting Gijon on Saturday but refused to blame it on their 2-1 defeat.
After needing extra-time and penalties to beat PSV in the Champions League on Tuesday, Atletico were back in action within four days while their title rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid both play 24 hours later.
Atletico started well at El Molinon thanks to Antoine Griezmann’s 17th league goal of the season, but they tired late on and saw victory slip away.
Sporting levelled through Antonio Sanabria before substitute Carlos Costa snatched all three points, denting Atletico’s faint title hopes.
Simeone told his post-match news conference: “We are pleased to be premium. We are premium because we played at 4pm and we have been watched in China. So, I am delighted because we are premium.
“But I do not like to look for excuses.
“We have always been aware of our goal. The aim of the club is to be third and we work in order to reach the club’s goal. We know in terms of numbers this defeat make things much tougher in order to have any chance to be champions in La Liga.”
He added: “I congratulate my players, they have put in an enormous effort.
“We gave everything we had but in the last 10 minutes they pressed a lot. Sporting have very good players, they have lacked a little luck but if they go on like this they will achieve their goal [of survival].
“I want to congratulate Sporting because they played very well. We had control in the first half, but in the second they pressed and in the last 10 minutes we could not get out of that pressure.”