Diego Costa scores, has injury scare in return to Atletico Madrid

Diego Costa waves to fans during his official presentation for Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (Paul White/AP)

BARCELONA, Spain — Diego Costa scored a goal and had an injury scare in his first five minutes back with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Costa went on as a second-half substitute to help Atletico win 4-0 at 10-man Lleida in the first leg of their Copa del Rey’s round-of-16 meeting.

But his celebration with his teammates was cut short by pain to his right leg. The Brazilian-born Spain striker grabbed the area around his right knee and limped off the pitch to be attended by team medics. Television replays showed he had blood on the inside of his leg.

But after a few minutes on the sidelines, Costa returned to the pitch and finished the match without visibly favouring his left leg.

The club said after the match that Costa had a "direct knock to the inside of his right leg that caused pain in his knee." It added that during Thursday’s training session his leg would be evaluated to see if it required further tests.

It was Costa’s first competitive match since playing with Spain in June. Costa moved back to Atletico after he fell out with Chelsea coach Antonio Conte despite helping the English side win the Premier League last season.

However, Costa and fellow newcomer Victor "Vitolo" Machin couldn’t play for Atletico until 2018 when the club’s ban on fielding new players for violating FIFA regulations regarding youth players expired.

Costa and Vitolo both came off the bench after Diego Godin and Fernando Torres had put the hosts 2-0 up at third-division Lleida.

Coach Diego Simeone sent Costa on in the 64th minute. He slid to connect with a pass by Juanfran Torres to get his first goal upon his return five minutes later.

After shaking off the knock to his leg, Costa looked like his old self, rattling rival defenders with his powerful runs and never-back-down attitude.

"I couldn’t ask for more from my first game back with Atletico," Costa said. "I am playing again and on top of that I was lucky enough to score a goal. I am very happy to feel like a football player again."

Antoine Griezmann, who also went on as a substitute, scored Atletico’s fourth in stoppage time from a free kick after Lledia’s Marc Trilles was sent off following his second booking.

Costa, 29, helped Atletico win the 2013 Copa del Rey and the 2014 Spanish league title, as well as reach the Champions League final, before moving to Chelsea where he played for three seasons.

"Costa gave us what we need from him, speed, determination and physical strength," Simeone said. "With the arrival of Vitolo and Costa we hope to grow. We have added two top class players and I hope they both settle in as quickly as possible."

Atletico plays Getafe on Saturday in the Spanish league, where it is in second place, nine points behind Barcelona.

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STRONG DEBUTS

Former AC Milan manager Vincenzo Montella oversaw a victory in his first match in charge of Sevilla.

Manuel "Nolito" Agudo and Jesus Navas scored early to secure the 2-0 win at Cadiz.

Montella replaced Eduardo Berizzo, who was fired by Sevilla shortly after he had returned from a layoff to treat prostate cancer.

Ermedin Demirovic, a 19-year-old forward from Bosnia, also scored twice in his debut for Alaves to help it to a 3-1 victory at third-tier Formentera.

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RODRIGO HITS 10

Rodrigo Moreno scored his 10th goal for Valencia in all competitions this season to grab a 1-1 draw at Las Palmas in the day’s only clash of first-division sides.

Moreno’s goal in the 85th denied Paco Jemez a win in his coaching debut for Las Palmas.

Valencia was managed by assistant Ruben Uria while coach Marcelino Garcia Toral recovers from a car accident that was reportedly caused when his car hit a wild boar on Dec. 23.