Diego Costa scored his Spanish league-leading ninth and 10th goals of the season to give Atletico Madrid a 2-1 victory over Celta Vigo on Sunday, extending their club record with an eighth win in as many games to start the domestic campaign.
The win at their Vicente Calderon Stadium kept Atletico level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table and five points ahead of Real Madrid after both rivals won on Saturday.
If they keep playing at this level it would be silly not to consider them for the title
Diego Costa was born in Brazil but holds a Spanish passport, and his latest performance will surely give Spain coach Vicente del Bosque even more reason to stick to his plan of calling him up to join the world champions for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Diego Costa made up for a missed penalty by tapping in Filipe Luis’ cross three minutes before halftime and he added another goal with a move that combined finesse and power in the 62nd.
His double gave him two more goals than Barcelona’s injured Lionel Messi and three more than Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Costa is our soul,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.
“He played a great game. He is constantly growing and can get even better.”
Celta substitute Manuel ‘Nolito’ Agudo halved the deficit in the 71st and the forward threatened to grab the equaliser late, but a tiring Atletico held on to the three points.
While Simeone and his players insist they are not contemplating a challenge for the league title with their mantra of ‘just going forward game by game,’ Celta coach Luis Enrique is one of many who considers them a contender.
“It’s not for me to talk about them, but they are the most dangerous opponent we have faced so far,” said Enrique.
“If they keep playing at this level it would be silly not to consider them for the title.”
Elsewhere, Valencia failed to make it five consecutive wins in all competitions as Mikel Rico’s header 15 minutes from time handed Athletic Bilbao a share of the points in a 1-1 draw at the new San Mames.
Getafe are now level on points with both Valencia and Athletic in fifth after three goals in the opening 27 minutes sealed their third consecutive win as they went on to beat Real Betis 3-1.
And Sevilla also continued their improving form with a 2-1 win over bottom-placed Almeria thanks to Ivan Rakitic’s stoppage time header.