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Simeone praises the ‘extraordinary’ Griezmann in Atletico Madrid win

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Diego Simeone has paid tribute to Antoine Griezmann after he overtook Fernando Torres to become Atletico Madrid’s fifth-highest goalscorer.

The French forward scored the only goal of the game during the second-half against Rayo Vallecano to seal a 1-0 win for Atletico and enable them to, for now at least, move back ahead of Real Madrid into second place in La Liga.

It was Griezmann’s 130th goal for Atletico which enabled him leapfrog Torres, who left the Wanda Metropolitano last summer for Japanese side Sagan Tosu, into fifth place in the club’s all-time top scorers.

Speaking after Los Rojiblancos’ league victory, Simeone praised the prolific 27-year-old.

“Griezmann is an extraordinary player, he always adapts to what the team needs. He’s very important for us,” Simeone told the club website.

After back-to-back defeats to Real Betis and Real Madrid, Atletico were made to work hard for all three points at Vallecano today with Simeone highlighting substitutes Thomas Lemar and Diego Costa as key to their victory.

“It’s always tough at this stadium,” admitted the Atletico coach.

“We started off well and we had chances in the first 15 minutes such as Saúl’s header, but then they improved.

“Our second-half substitutions gave us more offensive strength and that allowed us to get our goal. It was a very tough match.”

Costa, who made his first appearance of 2019 after undergoing surgery on a foot injury in his native Brazil at the end of last year, was thrilled to be back out on the field following a long absence.

“Being injured is very tough, but I’m very happy to be back doing what I love the most,” said Costa.

“We managed to win in Vallecas, where Rayo are hard to beat. To earn the three points here you have to be brave.”

Atletico will next host Juventus at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday for the first leg of their last-16 clash in the Champions League.