LISBON, Portugal — This time there are no excuses for Atlético Madrid.No unlucky break, no old nemesis, no high-profile opponent. Diego Simeone's team just couldn’t get it done.When the path to the elusive Champions League title seemed the easiest, Atlético’s run ended in a loss to a young Leipzig 2-1 on Thursday in the quarterfinals.“No excuses,” Simeone said. “I liked the way our opponent played. It played decisively, with a lot of enthusiasm and freshness. It made things difficult for us.“They beat us in the duels, in the fouls, in understanding the game. We gave everything we had but it wasn’t enough. We have to congratulate our opponent. We couldn’t play the way we wanted to.”The defeat in Lisbon immediately sparked criticism back home, with some questioning whether Simeone’s time with Atlético may have come to an end.Club president Enrique Cerezo came out defending the coach despite acknowledging fans had not been expecting the setback at this stage.“Those who contest his lineups should buy their own club and pick the players themselves,” Cerezo told Spanish media. “We had a very good season. We finished in the top three in the Spanish league and reached the quarterfinals in the Champions League, which is no small feat.”Atlético was trying to make it to the semifinals for the first time since 2017, a year after it lost its second final in three seasons.It looked like this could finally be the year for the Spanish club. It knocked out defending champion Liverpool in the last 16 and avoided a powerhouse in the round of 16, and old foes Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo — responsible for most of Atlético’s recent eliminations — were out of the tournament.Real Madrid defeated Atlético in the Champions League four consecutive times from 2014-17 — twice in the final and also in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Atlético lost to Ronaldo’s Juventus in the round of 16 last season.Atlético was unbeaten in 11 matches after the pandemic break and was the most experienced team in this year’s tournament other than former champions Barcelona and Bayern Munich, which play against each other on Friday.Leipzig, founded only 11 years ago, had been playing well but was weakened by the departure of top scorer Timo Werner.It all favoured Atlético, but Simeone's team couldn't capitalize on its chance. Leipzig beat them with an 88th-minute goal by American midfielder Tyler Adams.Some criticized Simeone for not starting João Félix, the young Portuguese star who scored their lone goal against Leipzig after coming off the bench.Félix arrived this season as a record signing from Benfica to replace Antoine Griezmann, as the club lost veterans such as Diego Godín and Filipe Luis in its biggest shakeup since 2011 when Simeone took charge.“Of course we could have done better, but we gave everything we had,” said Simeone, adding he was already looking forward to getting ready for another “tough” season ahead.“We have to remain calm,” Cerezo said. “I still think we have a good team. It just wasn't our night."___More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports___Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoniTales Azzoni, The Associated Press
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LISBON, Portugal — Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel’s halftime talk trying to lift his team to a Champions League quarterfinal win cost the club 30,000 euros ($35,500) on Friday.UEFA said its disciplinary panel imposed the fine and also warned Tuchel “for being responsible for the late kickoff” to restart Wednesday’s game in Lisbon.PSG trailed Atalanta 1-0 at halftime then dominated the second half before scoring twice in the closing minutes to advance to its first semifinal in 25 years.UEFA often fines clubs for being late from the locker room to start the second half which can affect broadcasters’ schedules.Critics often compare the size of those fines unfavourably with similar sums imposed on clubs in cases of racist behaviour by fans at stadiums.PSG next plays Leipzig on Tuesday.___More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsThe Associated Press
LONDON — The consortium which withdrew its bid to buy English club Newcastle declined an offer of independent arbitration into the long-running case after a request for additional information from the Premier League, according to the head of the competition.Premier League chief executive Richard Masters commented publicly about the aborted takeover for the first time in a letter to a British lawmaker, a copy of which was published on Twitter on Friday.The league spent four months considering whether to approve the 300 million pound ($392 million) takeover that would have seen Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund gain an 80% share of the northeast club. The process was stalled by concerns about piracy by the kingdom and human rights complaints.In the letter to local lawmaker Chi Onwurah, Masters said that after an impasse was reached in the league’s owners’ and directors’ test, the consortium was asked for more details about which entity would have control of the club so an assessment could be made about any possible disqualifying criteria.“The Premier League recognized this dispute, and offered the consortium the ability to have the matter determined by an independent arbitral tribunal if it wished to challenge the conclusion of the board,” Masters wrote.“The consortium chose not to take up that offer, but nor did it procure the provision of the additional information. Later, it (or PIF specifically) voluntarily withdrew from the process,” Masters added, referring to the Saudis’ Public Investment Fund.Masters also dismissed suggestions that rival Premier League clubs vetoed the deal.“The owners’ and directors’ test is delegated to and carried out entirely by the Premier League Board,” he said. “Other member clubs have no role whatsoever in the approval process.”The British-based Reuben brothers and financier Amanda Staveley were also part of the PIF bid, planning to each buy the remaining 10% stakes to end the ownership of retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley.The Premier League faced calls to block the takeover by Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi. The assassination and dismemberment of Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in late 2018 has been linked to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who oversees the fund, by Western intelligence services and U.S. lawmakers.The takeover bid was also complicated by the World Trade Organization recently ruling that Saudi Arabia failed to stop a broadcasting operation pirating sports coverage — including of Premier League games — and blocked moves to shut it down in a proxy of the Gulf economic and diplomatic dispute with Qatar.The Qatar-owned beIN Sports network, which is banned from operating in Saudi Arabia, holds the Middle East rights that are being pirated by beoutQ.___More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsThe Associated Press