October 18, 2017 / 6:15 PM / 6 months ago

Atletico's Simeone still believes despite frustrating draw with Qarabag

BAKU, Azerbaijan (Reuters) - Diego Simeone still believes his Atletico Madrid side can reach the knockout stages of the Champions League despite a frustrating goalless draw at Qarabag on Wednesday that extended their winless run in Group C to three games.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Qarabag FK vs Atletico Madrid - Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan - October 18, 2017 - Atletico Madrid's Diego Godin in action with Qarabag’s Pedro Henrique. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Despite claiming one point from their opening two matches against AS Roma and Chelsea, Simeone’s Atletico — finalists in two of the last four seasons — were expected to make light work of unfancied Qarabag, who picked up their first Champions League point.

Yet the Spanish side lacked a clinical edge, with Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann missing good chances in the first half before the Frenchman had an effort disallowed for offside after the break.

Azeri side Qarabag looked dangerous on the counter-attack but their late push for an unlikely winner was all but ended when Dino Ndlovu was dismissed having received a second yellow card for a dive in the 75th minute.

“I believe in these players and we’re capable of changing the group situation around,” Simeone told reporters. “I’m feeling good and the side too.

“We need to improve our finishing. Draws happen. We didn’t lose but we couldn’t score despite playing well. We didn’t keep a cool head when we had our chances and they defended well. We couldn’t win but we had enough chances to do so.”

Chelsea lead Group C with six points and host second-place AS Roma, on four points, later on Wednesday. Atletico are two points adrift in third and can ill-afford to lose any more ground on the top two sides.

“We’ve still got three games to qualify and we’ll fight to the end,” forward Griezmann added.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Qarabag FK vs Atletico Madrid - Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan - October 18, 2017 Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann reacts REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Reporting by Tom Hayward; Editing by Toby Davis

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