Simeone hails his Atletico Madrid troops after Villarreal battle

Diego Simeone manager reacts during the Villarreal game.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone hailed his side’s 1-0 win over Villarreal as an "important victory" in the race for the Primera Division title.

Atletico remained on top of the table, ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid, thanks to a hard-fought win.

Raul Garcia’s 14th-minute goal settled the contest, but the hosts had to withstand heavy pressure in the closing stages to see out the match.

"We’ve been making a huge effort, incredibly so, I can’t find the words to keep congratulating the players’ effort," Simeone said on the club website. "It was a complicated match and we achieved an important victory.

"At the end we were tired, which is normal. The strength and energy we had in previous occasions were not there, but the team was level-headed, and that made up for the lack of energy."

Atletico are now six games from the title, with a trip to Barcelona coming on the final day of the season, and the Argentinian admitted none of them would be straightforward for his side.

"I can’t imagine an easy game seeing what’s ahead of us," Simeone said. "Getafe and Elche, Malaga with their needs, Valencia and Levante. And you know about the last one."