Diego Simeone: “Thanks to mothers of our players for giving them big cojones”

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LONDON — Following Atletico Madrid’s stunning 3-1 win away at Chelsea on Wednesday, Atleti’s Argentine boss Diego Simeone finished his post-game press conference off in bizarre fashion.

Speaking through a translator Simeone, with his hair slicked back and a devilish look on his face, dropped the following line to salute the mothers of his players.

That’s right…

“I want to congratulate the mothers of these players, because they gave them big balls to play like this.”

Simeone is spot on. Those mothers deserve a jolly good pat on the back.

His team played with incredible drive, spirit and determination throughout and even when they feel behind to Fernando Torres’ 36th minute strike, Atleti did not panic. They stuck to their task and were driven on by Diego Costa’s tireless work rate up front and the industry and skill of midfielders Adrian Lopez, Koke and Arda Turan. All played with big cajones and put on a top performance when it really mattered, away at a hostile stadium in the UCL semifinal and all of that after going behind.

(MORE: Three things we learned from Atletico Madrid’s win over Chelsea)

You have to admire the Argentine manager for taking Atleti from a club riddled with financial turmoil when he took over in 2011 to winning the Europa League and now the brink of a UEFA Champions League and La Liga double in 2013-14. Atletico embody their coaches persona unlike any team I have ever seen. the chase, they harass, they kick, they scrap and they fight for every single ball on the pitch. Watch Simeone on the sidelines, he does it all with them.

This guy from Buenos Aires has got “big cajones” too.

Leading from the sidelines, the 44-year-old manager reminds me of a young Mourinho. The way he broods around his technical area and weighs up his next move. The former Argentine international was a leader of men in his playing days at Inter Milan, Lazio and in two separate spells with Atletico Madrid. A general in midfield, always biting into challenges and leading by example, now Simeone is one of the hottest coaching properties in Europe, and rightly so.

(MORE: Your Champions League Final – Real Madrid goes for No. 10; Atlético goes for No. 1)

Atleti’s fan saluted their manager at the final whistle as he’s lead them to the UCL final against their crosstown rivals Real Madrid. It is Atleti’s first European Cup final in over 40 years and the Spanish club thoroughly deserve to be heading to Lisbon on May 24.

Massive cojones and all…

USMNT AT HALF: Dempsey, Gomez trade goals in chippy first half

AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco
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Christian Pulisic and Clint Dempsey combined for another goal, and the USMNT leads Panama 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday in Panama City.

A physical, chippy first half didn’t see many clear cut chances and was 0-0 after 38. minutes.

[ STREAM: Live on Telemundo Deportes ]

The first 10 minutes were a bit frenetic, with the U.S. focused on adventurous first touch passes when it managed to earn the ball from Panama.

That feel wasn’t aided by the officiating, as Cesar Ramos was inconsistent in a very physical opening half-hour.

Then, the breakthrough. Dempsey moved to within a goal of Landon donovan’s all-time mark thanks to Pulisic, who cooked Felipe Baloy and held off Roman Torres before laying off to the veteran. 1-0, 39′.

The lead lasted all of three minutes, as Gomez pounced on a loose ball with the Yanks’ back line at sixes and sevens off a long throw-in. Gomez turned off Jermaine Jones and lost Villafana to bury his chance behind Howard. 1-1, 44′.

STREAM LIVE: USMNT looks for 3 more points in Panama

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The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.

Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore

Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski

Reyes header gives Mexico three points in T&T (video)

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Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.

[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]

The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.

The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.

Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.

T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.

Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.

Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.

Honduras holds Costa Rica 1-1

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Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.

Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.

[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]

Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.

With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.

Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.