With 23 minutes left, it appeared as though Antoine Griezmann had given Atletico a chance to draw the game against Porto with a well-taken goal, but referee Daniele Orsato ruled that Rodrigo De Paul had fouled Galeno in the buildup.
With both players reaching the ball at the same time, the decision was extremely harsh, but the Italian referee erupted for an infringement right away.
Simeone barely moved on the sidelines as tensions rose on the field as De Paul and Fabio Cardoso received warnings.
Davide Massa, the fourth official, would not be criticised. At his side’s funeral, he was nothing more than a broken, dejected figure dressed in all black.
El Cholo’s match was already over, and in the age of the Europa Conference League and endless football, salvaging a Europa League spot may still be seen as a booby prize.
Atletico only needed to match Bayer Leverkusen’s result against Club Brugge to secure a Europa League spot, but a loss meant they finished in last place in Group B.
Simeone, a manager who consistently wins and lives and breathes the game, simply let out a long exhale when another decision went against him.
You questioned whether Simeone has the stomach for another Atletico rebuild and, in fact, if they have reached rock bottom as he stared into the abyss on Tuesday night and headed down the tunnel. He has carried a sense of perpetual wrongdoing and of being up against the wall.
“You can always be worse,” the Argentine said. “You have to worry about knowing where we are now and improve. The only way I know how to get out of situations like this is to stay together and get everyone involved, the club, the people, us – together.
“It was difficult for us, it is difficult for us but we have to accept it and see how we can improve in Europe. We have conceded goals in almost every game. We scored few and almost all the teams were better than us. We ended up in the place we deserved. Accept reality. From there on, another phase begins tomorrow.”