BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Diego Costa was carried off with a bloody leg after scoring Atletico Madrid’s second goal in a 2-0 win at 10-man Getafe on Sunday, although the team said its star striker escaped without a serious injury.
Atletico extended its Spanish league lead to three points with five rounds to play as it closes in on what would be its first league title in 18 years.
Costa slammed into the post while poking in his 26th goal of the season in the 84th minute, opening a cut on his left shin and requiring the stadium’s medical crew to carry him off the pitch while he covered his face and muffled his screams.
While his teammates looked distraught as he writhed on the pitch, Atletico said less than 10 minutes after the match on Twitter that ”luckily Diego Costa only has a cut after hitting the post.”
”He’s fine, calm, a cut doesn’t do any more harm,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said about his leading scorer. ”We now have five games left, and we have to play each one like it was a final.”
Despite the scare, Atletico took advantage of Barcelona’s loss on Saturday to open up a three point lead over Real Madrid with Barcelona another point behind.
Defender Diego Godin gave Atletico the lead in the 40th before Getafe’s Alexis Ruano was dismissed with a red card in the 66th after he pulled Miranda down in the area, with goalkeeper Jordi Codina saving Diego Costa’s penalty and Raul Garcia’s follow-up try.
Atletico then applied the same stout defense that it used to eliminate Barcelona from the Champions League this week to keep Getafe in the relegation zone.
”This was a tough rival to beat because a lot was on the line,” Godin said. ”(And) the victory is a bitter one for what happened to Diego Costa.”
Costa was back in Atletico’s starting 11 having recovered from a right thigh injury that sidelined him for two games.
The Brazilian-born player is having a breakout season that has earned him a spot on Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain in this summer’s World Cup.
He showed no signs of slowing down as he deployed the same physical style of play that has made him the revelation of the league this season, earning three fouls and two yellow cards for Getafe’s defenders in the first half hour.
And after Codina blocked his penalty kick, Costa kept hustling and got his chance to pull to within two goals of league leader Cristiano Ronaldo when he slid to meet Adrian Lopez’s cross.
The goal came at a high price, with his cries heard across the pitch at Alonso Perez Coliseum following his brutal collision with the upright.
Godin put Atletico in front when he rose up over his marker to guide in Juanfran Torres’ cross with a well-placed header over Codina, who was caught off his line and yet nowhere near Godin.
Also on Sunday, forward Kevin Gameiro scored twice to help Sevilla win a bad-tempered derby at 10-man Real Betis 2-0 and stay in the hunt for Spain’s final Champions League berth.
Gameiro converted a penalty in the 30th after Juan Carlos Perez was sent off for fouling Carlos Bacca. Gameiro added another goal in the 82nd.
Sevilla’s victory moved it to within three points of fourth-place Athletic Bilbao before the Basque side hosts Malaga on Monday.
Unai Emery’s Sevilla continues to have a strong second half of the season with eight wins in the last nine rounds as it aims for a return to Europe’s top-tier competition. It advanced to the semifinals of the Europa League against Valencia after eliminating FC Porto earlier this week.
”We are only thinking about (our next game against) Granada, because we don’t depend on ourselves,” Emery said. ”The best part of the season is still to come. If we work hard we will enjoy it.”
The loss left Betis languishing in last place, some 10 points from safety with five rounds to go.
Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita saved a penalty to ensure a 2-1 win at home over Elche. Pablo Piatti and Dani Parejo scored for Valencia with Ferran ”Coro” Corominas getting Elche’s goal.