Atletico Madrid defeat Rayo Vallecano
BARCELONA, Spain (AP)
Diego Costa snapped his mini-scoring slump to record his 20th La Liga goal of the season and help Atletico Madrid romp to a 4-2 win at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, provisionally lifting it to the top of the table.
By winning the Spanish capital derby, Atletico shook off two consecutive draws in the previous rounds to move one point ahead of overnight leader Real Madrid. Barcelona can pull level with Atletico with a win at home over Malaga later Sunday.
Diego Costa fueled Atletico's tenacious attack that picked apart the worst defense in Spain, increasing Rayo's league-worst tally of goals conceded to 51 goals in 21 rounds.
Diego Costa only trails Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and his 22 goals as the league's leading scorer, and the Brazilian-born player's passing was key in Atletico's first two goals at Vallecas Stadium.
Atletico's win was tarnished by the apparent shoulder injury to young midfielder Oliver Torres in the second half.
David Villa got Atletico rolling in the eighth minute after he stole the ball deep in Rayo's territory and worked a one-two passing combination with Diego Costa before firing in his 10th league goal of the season.
Rayo had an excellent chance to level four minutes later after Javier Manquillo tripped Alberto Bueno in the area, but Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had little problem punching out Jonathan Viera's spot kick.
Diego Costa and newcomer Jose Sosa both drew saves from goalkeeper Ruben Martinez before Arda Turan scored his first of two goals in the 30th to finish off a collective effort, with the ball flowing from Diego Costa through a generous Sosa for Turan to roll in.
Viera made up for his miss by scoring in the 40th, but Turan struck again in the 44th when he tapped in a free kick headed to the far post by Rayo defender Saul Niguez.
Diego Costa found the net for the first time in 2014 when he redirected Filipe Luis' cross in the 74th before Joaquin Larrivey responded almost immediately for Rayo's second.
Markel Susaeta, Ibai Gomez and Kike Sola also scored for Bilbao as it consolidates its place in the last Champions League spot.