Atlético striker Radamel Falcao had words of praise for his team-mates for “refusing to lose heart” in their Europa League round of 32 first leg match against Lazio at the Italian heavyweights’ Stadio Olímpico.
Despite a slip up by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois that led to an early 1-0 deficit, los Rojiblancos rallied back to strike three times en route to their resounding 3-1 triumph Thursday evening.
“It was a great performance,” Falcao told UEFA’s official website.
“We refused to lose heart when we went down 1-0 and we did well to score three goals and pull off an important victory. It was not a decisive win and we have to be wary in Madrid.”
‘El Tigre’ has banged in 19 goals so far in his first season with los Rojiblancos in all competitions, and has now scored an eye-popping 23 goals in his last 23 matches in Europa League play.
“I do not have a secret for goalscoring in this competition; it is always my intention to score, whether it’s in Europe or the league,” he said.
“I go out there with that positive attitude and I am always ready to score.”
Brazilian midfielder Diego, who assisted Falcao’s first goal after controlling an exquisite little flick by Adrián, explained the reasons behind Atleti’s recent surge in form since the arrival of coach Diego Simeone.
“We were playing against a very difficult side so we are very happy with the victory,” he said.
“We are improving because we are playing with more ruthlessness. Our concentration is better over 90 minutes and that makes a difference.
“We must carry on like this.”
The former Juventus man was also pleased with his team-mates’ determination.
“They were tough opponents,” he said.
“We had to really focus on our game plan and work hard, and we did really well to create the chances from which we scored in a really demanding match.
“We started badly but showed great character, and when we equalised the game changed.”
Adrián, who notched his 13th goal on the season in all competitions and took his assist total to seven after feeding attack partner Falcao on the team’s third goal, gave his assessment of the clash.
“We made life complicated for ourselves by going behind, but the team reacted well and 3-1 was a great result for us at a tricky place like this,” he said.
“We played with a good rhythm; we were quick to win the ball back, quick with our passing, quick on the counterattack and scored three good goals.”
Rojiblanco boss Diego Simeone insisted that his men “must not stop working, because the fixture isn’t over.”
“Lazio had several players out today, but they will possibly recover in time for the return match,” Simeone warned.