Diego Simeone was pleased to see Atletico Madrid round out 2019 by beating Real Betis, with a 2-1 win secured thanks to one of his substitutes, Angel Correa.
Having replaced Thomas Lemar just before the hour, Correa scored within two minutes of his introduction off the bench, giving Atletico a crucial lead at the Benito Villamarin on Sunday.
The forward also set up his side’s second in the closing minutes, sending over a low cross for Alvaro Morata to tuck home at the near post.
Marc Bartra did cut the deficit in half during stoppage time, finding the net via a deflection, but Atletico held firm to record their first LaLiga triumph on the road since September 25.
“We are happy because we needed to win and continue the upward curve we’ve had in the last few games,” Simeone said.
“The players made a great effort throughout the game.
“In the first half we were better but in the second the goals came, yet we did not have the peace of mind to close out the victory.”
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Correa has made a habit of making an impact off the bench; no player in LaLiga has scored more goals as a substitute since the start of the 2015-16 season.
Having seen it happen so often in recent years, Simeone was not surprised by the Argentine forward’s match match-turning cameo.
“He trained very well and when he entered, he showed us the type of player he is,” he said of Correa.
“He worked accordingly to what the team needed. He has something different, he has shown it [in the past] and it is no accident.”
Betis coach Rubi felt the final scoreline was unfair on the hosts – who hit the woodwork twice during the game – as they slipped to a first loss since November 10, when they were beaten in the derby by rivals Sevilla.
“We deserved much more than the final result, but we knew that if we made a mistake, this team penalises you,” Rubi told the media.
“It was very important to get ahead, because it is very rocky. They are a rival that penalises a lot of mistakes. We are leaving with a very bittersweet taste, we have had very good moments.”
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