Madrid: Atletico Madrid`s 5-0 Champions League win at home to Malmo on Wednesday may have been engineered by playmaker Koke but coach Diego Simeone reserved the most effusive praise for forward Antoine Griezmann.
The talented Frenchman is taking time to settle with the Spanish champions since joining from Real Sociedad in the close season and his goal against the Swedish side was his first at the Calderon and only his second for the club.
Known for getting the best out of players yet to fulfill their potential, Simeone singled Griezmann out in his post-match news conference, noting that as well as scoring the 23-year-old has toiled hard to help the team and had caused Malmo problems with his intelligent runs.
He came close to opening the scoring in the first half on Wednesday when he shot against the underside of the crossbar and it was fitting that when he did find the net he raced to the touchline and leaped into Simeone`s arms to celebrate.
"Beyond the goal, what I liked most was his work rate, his attitude, his participation in defence, that he was involved according to what the team needed," Simeone said.
"Taking away his goal, he played a very good match from the point of view of his movement."
There is little doubt that Griezmann has the talent to succeed at the highest level.
Predominantly left-footed, he is quick, skillful, can strike the ball powerfully from distance and has an eye for the killer pass to release a team mate into space.
He was mainly used as a substitute for France at the World Cup and impressed particularly in the 2-0 victory over Nigeria in the last 16.
In an interview with Spanish television after the Malmo game, Griezmann agreed he had needed a good performance to dispel doubts about his credentials.
"The truth is we were very keen to get out on the pitch and get the three points because it was a crucial game," Griezmann told Spanish television.
"I also wanted to perform well, give my all on the pitch and I knew that if I created chances the goal would come."
Atletico`s latest European success, in which Koke scored one goal and made three assists, put last season`s beaten finalists joint top of Group A, level with Olympiakos Piraeus on six points from three matches.
However, Group A is a tight one with Italian title holders Juventus on three points along with Malmo and Simeone warned progress to the last 16 was by no means guaranteed.
Malmo host Atletico on Nov. 4, when Juventus are at home to Olympiakos.