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Koke keen for Atlético run to continue

Koke, Gabi and Diego of Club Atlético de Madrid were in celebratory mood after they advanced past FC Barcelona to book their place in Friday's semi-final draw.

Koke keen for Atlético run to continue
Koke keen for Atlético run to continue ©

The word "history" was on the lips of many a Club Atlético de Madrid player after the Rojiblancos reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals following a 2-1 aggregate victory against FC Barcelona. An early second-leg strike from Koke set Diego Simeone's team on course for a place in the last four, with the midfielder later telling his side were "worthy winners" of the all-Spanish tie. 

Koke, Atlético midfielder  
It was unbelievable to score so early at home but I would like to highlight the work put in by all my team-mates both in the first leg in Barcelona and, above all, here tonight. The supporters also helped us out. We knew how we had to approach the match. If we started against one of the best teams in the world in a relaxed way it wouldn't have done anything for us. We had to maintain a high level of intensity during the whole game. If you look back on the first 15 minutes, we had a lot of chances to finish the tie off. In the end, we won 1-0 and we're leaving here very happy tonight.

Barcelona are spectacular in how they play the ball around and look to tire you out. However, I think we worked very hard and we are worthy winners of the tie, even if they had more possession of the ball. Maybe my goal was in some ways a historic one, but it was a goal scored in the quarter-finals. The semi-finals are next. Here's hoping we can continue making history. We know Adrián [López] is a great player. In the key games he shows that. I'd like to congratulate him – he's an important player in this group.

Gabi, Atlético midfielder 
We went through some powerful emotions out there on the field. Our team deserve this moment for everything we have been through and for all our hard work. It was an intense game, a great game and in the end we are justifiably through to the semi-finals. The fans were spectacular during the entire match. At the moment the team needed them most, they were there for us. It was one of those games we will never forget. In this competition the team that miss their chances normally pay a dear price. We did that [missed chances] but we managed to defend very well afterwards. We held off Barça and I am proud of our team.

We showed tonight how strong we are physically during the entire game. We now have an opportunity that, David Villa aside, nobody has experienced: a Champions League semi-final. We want to take full advantage. We are aware how difficult it is going to be, but we will try our best as we have been doing until now. When you make history, it is something you remember much further down the line. We will try to make a little more history if we can, so as not to come down off this cloud we are on.

Diego, Atlético attacker
We have taken a massive step tonight and credit goes to the whole team, the hard work put in by the coach and the supporters too. We have very special fans and are lucky they are with us. We have beaten one of the biggest teams in Europe. However, we need to remain humble and keep working. Doing that, even better things will come. We knew how important our first-leg goal [scored by Diego] was and, for that, I'm even happier.

I'm certain that tonight's game was one of the best I have experienced. We are now just enjoying the moment. We are creating history at the club and we must continue along our current path. There is still a long way to go but I hope that in the end we will be happy. 

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