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Diego Forlán reflected on a night when "everything went according to plan" for Club Atlético de Madrid after the Spanish side took firm control of their UEFA Champions League play-off round tie against Panathinaikos with a frenetic 3-2 win in Athens.
Strikes from Maxi Rodríguez, Forlán and Sergio Agüero highlighted the potency of Atlético's attacking triumvirate as a dynamic performance put a major dent in Panathinaikos's hopes of advancing. "I'm very happy with the result," said Forlán afterwards. "We will have to wait and see what happens in the return leg but we are in a very strong position. Our game plan was exactly right, everything went according to plan. Panathinaikos played as we expected – they were full of running and made it difficult for us at times – but we stayed focused, continued to play our game and got the result we needed."
Despite the scoreline, which leaves Panathinaikos needing to score at least twice in Madrid next week to overcome Atlético, Forlán admitted a cautious approach would still be required. "Nothing is decided yet," explained the 2008/09 ESM Golden Shoe winner. " There are still another 90 minutes to go before we are certain of qualification. After this result everything is in our favour – so as long as we stay focused back in Madrid, then we will be in the group stage."
Panathinaikos midfielder Kostas Katsouranis admitted Atlético's quality proved the difference, although the former SL Benfica man maintained that Rodríguez's 36-minute opener was crucial in settling the Spanish team's early nerves."It was a good effort on our part but Atlético showed they have more quality as a team," said the 30-year-old Greek international. "The first goal was decisive because until then they had not had a real chance. After that everything was more difficult. We gave them too much space, while it was 1-1 we should have played more defensive and kept that scoreline."
The two teams meet again at the Vicente Calderón stadium next week and Katsouranis is well aware Pana face an almighty task. "Things are very difficult for us now but we will give everything to try and turn it around," he said. "In Spain we have to play much more defensively and if we can get the first goal of the game then perhaps we will have the chance to do something. The advantage though is clearly with Atlético."
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