Diego Simeone praised the impact of Fernando Torres as Atletico Madrid kept their La Liga title hopes alive with a 3-1 win away to Valencia.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea striker scored Atletico’s second less than 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute, after Denis Cheryshev had cancelled out Antoine Griezmann’s opener at Mestalla.
A burst of pace from Torres on the break then brought about Aderlan Santos’ red card after he was given a second yellow for a clumsy foul, before Yannick Ferreira Carrasco struck the third in the closing minutes.
“It was unfair for [Matias] Kranevitter to go off since he was having a great game, but the match needed more firepower going forward, more speed, more of a penalty-box player like Fernando Torres,” Simeone said of his crucial second-half changes after the match.
“We’re thinking day by day. Of course Fernando came on very well, [but] I’m happy with the team in general.
“The game started with [Luciano] Vietto, who did some great work. We know Fernando is different, he has speed.”
Torres himself insisted Atleti will not concede defeat in the Liga title race, despite Barcelona holding an eight-point advantage over the 2013-14 champions.
Simeone, however, claimed that the development of his team has to be considered the most important thing for his players during the final stage of the season.
“The talk we consider to be real is that we have to improve ourselves,” he said. “Of course we want to do this every year, but it’s not easy to achieve because we have a lot of different players.
“The average age of the team for this game was 24 and it’s not easy to play with so many boys. It’s not easy to make them believe that the team comes first, ahead of everything else.”