Diego Costa’s drawn-out exit from Chelsea and return to Atletico Madrid finally has some closure to it.
Costa scored just five minutes after coming on as a substitute in Atleti’s 4-0 thrashing of third-division side Lleida Esportiu in the Copa del Rey.
Chelsea agreed to sell Costa back to Atleti, where he played from 2010 to 2014, in late September. But he couldn’t be registered as a La Liga player again until this January transfer window, which marks the end of Atleti’s transfer ban stemming from a FIFA investigation into an under-18 player who previously appeared for the club.
In the 69th minute on Wednesday, Costa slid through the center of the box to drive home a cross from Juanfran:
— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) January 3, 2018
Costa appeared to injure himself during the celebration, and after receiving treatment on his right knee behind the goal for a brief period, he was able to finish the match with what looked to be a bruised knee.
Atletico Madrid is currently second in La Liga but nine points behind Barcelona, and the club has scored just 25 goals in its league campaign, which ranks just 39th across Europe’s big five leagues. Costa’s addition should no doubt help those numbers, with the misfiring Antoine Griezmann having scored just five times this campaign.
Atleti is almost surely through to the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, with a home return leg against Lleida coming in seven days’ time. Griezmann, Fernando Torres and Diego Godin were also on target Wednesday.
Costa’s goal against Lleida was his first for Atleti since April 30, 2014, when he scored in the Champions League semifinals against — ironically — Chelsea. After being told last June by Blues manager Antonio Conte he wasn’t part of the club’s plans going forward, Costa seems like he’s firmly part of Atleti’s plans.
Wednesday was a good start.