Diego Simeone confessed his side had a 'tough' afternoon in their game against La Liga strugglers Rayo Vallecano after their unconvincing 1-0 win saw them temporarily move into second in the league.

Antoine Griezmann's controversial 74th minute winner handed Simeone's men a vital three points, in a match where his side were largely second best and had issues imposing themselves against a side sat in 18th in the division.

They secured the three points in controversial fashion, however, as despite clearly being offside, Alvaro Morata was able to control a Filipe Luis cross and feed Griezmann, who fired home via a deflection. However, speaking on Atletico's official website after the game, Simeone was more keen to focus on the positive aspects of his side's display.

"It's always tough at this stadium. We started off well and we had chances in the first 15 minutes such as Saúl's header, but then they improved," he said.

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


Saturday's result was largely indebted to the performance of Jan Oblak in goal, who was called into action on numerous occasions to prevent efforts from Raul de Tomas, Adri Embarba and, in injury time, Abdoulaye Ba. Simeone took time to praise the Slovenian, as well as the match winner Griezmann, as Los Rojiblancos ended a run of two successive defeats.

He added: "Oblak played very well, like the goalkeepers from top teams play. Griezmann is an extraordinary player, he always adapts to what the team needs. He's very important for us."

Next up for Atletico is the first of their two legged Champions League last 16 tie, as they host Juventus at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday.