BARCELONA, Jan 4 ― Diego Costa enjoyed a typically eventful return to action for Atletico Madrid yesterday, scoring within six minutes of coming off the bench in his side's 4-0 King's Cup win at Lleida Esportiu but appearing to injure his knee in the process.
Costa turned Juanfran's low cross into the net in the 69th minute for Atletico's third goal in the first leg of the last 16 tie against third division Lleida but immediately limped to the sidelines. He did return to the pitch, however, and completed the game despite bleeding from his knee.
Diego Godin had headed Atletico in front in the 33rd minute following a free kick and Fernando Torres slid in to double the lead, completing a sweeping counter-attack although he was fortunate not to be ruled offside.
Antoine Griezmann completed the rout with a goal from a free kick in stoppage time, moments after the home side had defender Marc Trilles sent off for a second yellow card.
The win put Atletico on the verge of the quarter-finals, with the second leg at their Wanda Metropolitano stadium on January 9.
Elsewhere, Sevilla beat second division Cadiz 2-0 away in former AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella's first game in charge. Early goals from Nolito and Jesus Navas put the 2016 finalists in charge although the home side missed a late penalty.
Spain international Rodrigo Moreno struck late to salvage a 1-1 draw for Valencia at Las Palmas and last year's runners-up Deportivo Alaves eased to a 3-1 win at tiny island side SD Formentera.
Costa completed a £57 million (RM309.6 million) move back to Atletico from Chelsea in September, having left the club in 2014 after firing them to the La Liga title. The move was delayed by the club's ban on registering new players which expired on January 1.
Costa immediately gave his side an extra edge, charging into challenges and provoking opponents as well as starting and finishing the move for the third goal, his first strike for Atletico since scoring against Chelsea in April 2014.
“In those first five minutes he showed what he is all about and I hope he can keep it up,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone told reporters.
“But we have to take it easy, it's bad to get carried away. He is quick, determined and strong, but (Kevin) Gameiro and Torres played well too, the team played well as a collective.”
Spain international Vitolo, a €40 million signing from Sevilla who spent the first half of the season on loan at Las Palmas, also made his debut for Atletico by coming on in the second half.
“The arrival of these players will help us grow,” Simeone added.
“I hope they improve us and give us more power and drive. They are top level players and they bring us extra competition.” ― Reuters