Madrid, Spain, Jan 6 – Atletico Madrid unleashed Diego Costa in La Liga on Saturday and the controversial centre-forward scored the winner before being sent off in a 2-0 home win over regional rivals Getafe.
Atletico’s transfer ban ended last week and Costa was playing his first league game since rejoining the Spanish club from Chelsea.
The 2-0 win, in which France star Antoine Griezmann set up the opener for Angel Correa on 18 minutes, lifts Atletico into second, six points behind Barcelona who play Levante on Sunday.
Atletico stay two points clear of third-placed Valencia, who are on 37 points after coming back from an early deficit to beat Girona 2-1 thanks to a first-half Janos Ramalho own goal and Daniel Parejo’s penalty three minutes after the break.
Costa had been lively the whole match and received a yellow card for a foul in the 62nd minute. Five minutes later he met a low cross to put his side 2-0 up and immediately earned a second yellow for leaping into the stands to celebrate with fans.
The brooding striker looked totally perplexed by the decision but his borderline style of play may inject some much needed bite to the Atletico forward line.
“His presence gives us speed and directness. And he frightens opponents too,” said Atletico Coach Diego Simeone after the game.
“The referee was unable to consider the emotional aspect (of Costa’s behaviour), the rules are the rules,” he said.
Simeone’s side looked as hard to beat as ever — with just eight goals conceded and one defeat in 18 league games — but they have scored only 27 with Griezmann struggling to find the net, hitting just five league goals so far.
Atletico haven’t won La Liga since Costa left for London, where he won two Premier League titles in three years after rifling the Madrid club to their tenth league championship with 27 goals.