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LALIGA

Simeone cheers match-winner Lodi as Atlético go fourth

Diego Simeone applauded the attitude of left-back Renan Lodi, who played a keyrole in Atlético Madrid's 2-0 defeat of Celta Vigo on Saturday night.

Update:
Simeone cheers match-winner Lodi as Atlético go fourth
OSCAR DEL POZOAFP

Diego Simeone heaped praise on match-winner Renan Lodi after the left-back's brace fired Atlético Madrid to a vital 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday night. The Brazilian found the net in each half, with both goals being assisted by Geoffrey Kondogbia, enabling Atlético to move into the top four ahead of rivals Barcelona, who host Athletic Club on Sunday.

Lodi double

Lodi scored his first brace for Atlético in 105 appearances in all competitions, becoming the only defender to score two goals in a game for the club during Simeone's time as coach. Kondogbia, meanwhile, set up two goals in the same league game for the second time in his career, last doing so for Valencia against Sevilla in March 2018.

Speaking after the win, Simeone was keen to highlight not only Lodi's quality but also his work-rate, saying the full-back fully deserved his moment of glory. "I'm very happy for Renan," the Atleti boss said. "Last season he had fewer minutes than in his first year, but we always told him that because of his qualities, he could play an important role for us. The key thing about him is the things he does which you don't see. Reinildo joined last month and the first thing he did was try to help him. They are noble, good people, who are committed whether they play or not. In the end football rewards them, and gives them moments like today."

After suffering four straight defeats in LaLiga in December 2021, Simeone's team have recorded five wins in their last eight league games (drawing one and losing two) and won back-to-back league games for the first time in 2022. As the race for Champions League qualification hots up, Simeone praised his team's recent performances and highlighted how these displays have shown Atlético's depth.

"Since last week's win against Osasuna, the team has shown a different spirit - intensity, aggressiveness, collective work, defending our area and attacking the opponent with more forcefulness, and the results have accompanied this. The other day against United, it wasn't to be, perhaps undeservedly because of what we gave, but internal competition is growing and it's the best thing that can happen to us. Herrera, Kondogbia, Vrsaljko, Reinildo... they came to compete with those who were champions last season. There were times when things weren't working out, and luckily since the game against Osasuna we've been on the right track."

The victory means Atlético have not lost any of their last 10 LaLiga home games against Celta, posting seven wins and three draws in those matches - all of which under Simeone.

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