After his side inflicted only a second Liga defeat of the season on Club Atlético de Madrid, UD Almería coach Francisco expressed his pride at taking three points from a game of which he said "nobody gave us a chance".
Diego Simeone's title challengers had failed to win on their previous four visits to the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos prior to Saturday. Stifled in attack for large parts of this contest, they were eventually undone by Verza's looping effort ten minutes from time. Donning the goalkeeper gloves following Daniel Aranzubia's dismissal for a foul on Jonathan Sundy Zongo, visiting midfielder Gabi was then unable to stop Verza's 86th-minute penalty which sentenced Atlético to consecutive losses for the first time in almost a year.
"I feel very proud of the work and commitment my players put in," an elated Francisco said after his team's seventh win of the campaign. "Nobody gave us a chance but we knew we could do something big if we reproduced what we had worked on beforehand."
Promoted to his current role at the beginning of the campaign, the 35-year-old coach – Liga's youngest tactician – was charged with the task of keeping Almería in the top flight following promotion last term. Currently 15th in the standings, the Andalusia-based team are four points above the drop zone having won their last three Liga home games, the latest against a side with championship-winning aspirations.
"My players played with intensity," Francisco said. "We were solid in defence and after the break, Atlético didn't have a single chance. I think this may have been the game in which they have had the fewest opportunities [all season]. We've won ten of the last 12 points on offer at home while not conceding a goal and this is the path we must remain on because we know there is still a long way to go."
The hosts' efforts were also applauded by Simeone, whose side arrived in as Liga leaders but finished the weekend level on points with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF. "Our rivals did a great job and I congratulate them; they played as they had intended to," Simeone said. "We could have done better in the first half when we created some chances but football is like that; sometimes you win [games like this], sometimes you draw and others you lose. We aren't going to look for excuses."
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