03-Jan-2018 20:46:26 | The Guardian
The former Chelsea striker was back among old friends and duly scored in the Copa del Rey last-16 game against Lleida Esportiu
Diego Costa had been back for only five minutes when he scored his first Atlético Madrid goal in three and a half years but no sooner had he started than he stopped again. As the fans in red and white behind the goal celebrated, Costa sat on the turf, looking at his right leg. He had stretched to turn the ball into the net and paid for it. The game – his first for almost eight months – kicked off again with his side now 3-0 up as he limped round the touchline with the doctor and the fitness coach, Oscar ‘El Profe’ Ortega, yet he was not going to be beaten. He had waited too long to give up. So Costa slowed by the bench, showed Diego Simone his shin and ran on again.
His number was not up after all. Barely five minutes before, it had been. It was 8.17pm when they called him over, the wait finally at an end. Costa pulled off his tracksuit to reveal the 18 below, knelt down, crossed himself and headed to the touchline, high‑fived Ángel Correa and made his way into a match for the first time in 221 days, pointing to the sky. Chants of “independence” were interrupted by the cheers from the Atlético fans, while supporters of Lleida Esportiu whistled and booed.