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Dirty Tackle

Diego Costa goes from pestering Sergio Ramos to beating Real Madrid

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

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(Reuters)

The most lethal player in Spain right now isn't Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale or even Lionel Messi. It's Atletico's Diego Costa, the man who scored the only goal in his side's first La Liga win against Real Madrid since 1999. It took him just 11 minutes to score his eighth goal in seven matches this season — one more than Cristiano Ronaldo, who has taken 60 shots so far this season and the same number as Lionel Messi, who has taken 34 shots. Diego Costa, meanwhile, has only taken 21 shots.

The Brazilian born 24-year-old who recently became a Spanish citizen and might be on the verge of joining Spain's national team has never scored more than 10 goals in a domestic league season (though he did have 20 in all competitions in 2012/13). As of last year, his primary role in the Madrid derby was to serve as a target for Sergio Ramos' spit. But he has now helped Atletico win two in a row at the Santiago Bernabeu by scoring in last season's Copa del Rey final and again in Saturday's 1-0 win, ending a 23-match winless streak against Real Madrid in the league.

Costa's often vicious and cynical demeanor on the pitch has annoyed many in La Liga, including Real Madrid keeper Diego Lopez, who squared up with Costa after getting the striker's knee in his face.

Niceties aside, Atletico Madrid are keeping pace with Barcelona as they now have seven wins in as many matches and Diego Costa has eight of their 19 goals scored. Maybe Real Madrid should have spent €100 million on him over the summer if only so they wouldn't have to play against him anymore.

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