"It's great when the crowd give you a send-off as they did," Antoine Griezmann told UEFA.com after his two goals against Galatasaray took Atlético Madrid through.
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Antoine Griezmann struck twice as Atlético Madrid beat Galatasaray 2-0 to book their place in the UEFA Champions League knockout phase for the third consecutive season, something coach Diego Simeone described as "a step forwards" for the club.
The bedrock of this success is undoubtedly the side's outstanding home form in Europe and the Vicente Calderón was once again an impenetrable fortress on Wednesday night.
"We played well. In the first half we didn't create the chances our possession demanded," Simeone said. "In the second period we had the ball and created opportunities.
"In the three Champions Leagues that we've played in, we've had the chance to get through to the knockout phase with a game or two to spare. I'm happy for the club because it's a step forwards. We're going to try and grow from the work we do."
With Atlético having tasted defeat just twice in their previous 25 home games in UEFA club competition – in 2013 against Rubin and on matchday two this season versus Benfica – it was always going to take a herculean effort from the Turkish champions to get a result. Unfortunately for the visitors, just like Juventus, AC Milan and Barcelona before them in recent seasons, they were ultimately not up to the task and came away with scant reward for their efforts.
It might have been different had Wesley Sneijder's shot not flown past Jan Oblak's far post after ten minutes, but from there on in it was one-way traffic as Griezmann put interim coach Cláudio Taffarel's side to the sword.
"I really wanted to play well. I wanted to score and thanks to Gabi I was able to bag a couple," Griezmann told UEFA.com, before eulogising the backing he was given by the home support.
"It's great when the crowd give you a send-off as they did. I always try and give my all on the pitch, score goals and this is a great set of fans. Today we had a lot of chances but were lacking a bit in the final few metres. In any case, we're happy with what we did."
In total the Rojiblancos registered 25 shots at goal, 12 of which were on target. Visiting goalkeeper Fernando Muslera duly had a busy night and, were it not for a number of impressive stops by the Uruguayan, the difference would have been more pronounced.
"We faced an Atlético side that are very good all over the park and are very compact," said Muslera, who admitted Galatasaray had been worried about the potential of Griezmann before the game.
"We spoke about him in our training session yesterday; that we'd need to be careful of him. He has a lot of movement and the freedom to go from one side of the pitch to another, through the middle too. Right now he's one of Atleti's star men."
The Frenchman's double took his competition tally to four for the campaign – all of which have come against Galatasaray, who will be more than happy to see the back of him as they set about securing the point at home to Astana they require for UEFA Europa League qualification next time out.
The result ensures Atlético of a spot in the round of 16 and they will now travel to Benfica, with whom they are level on ten points at the top of Group C, on matchday six in a straight shoot-out for top spot. Simeone is taking nothing for granted, especially given their previous meeting.
"Finishing top is always better than coming second, but that doesn't guarantee you anything as all sides in the last 16 are competitive teams. We'll go to Lisbon with the same attitude as always, knowing they beat us well here."