Madrid: Diego Costa scored two penalties to give 10-man Atletico Madrid a 2-1 home win over nine-man Sevilla on Thursday in an incident-packed first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal that featured three penalties from handballs. The Brazilian forward filled in nicely for injured top scorer Radamel Falcao, who has been out since Jan. 20, by triggering both of Sevilla's dismissals in addition to taking his brace.
"Like the rest of my teammates, I just tried to give it my all," he said. "The most important thing is that we did our job and got the goals. Now we have to think about winning the second game as well." Atletico have won all 19 games at their Vicente Calderon stadium this season across all competitions.
Barcelona drew 1-1 at Real Madrid on Wednesday in the opening match of the other semi-final. The return legs for both ties will be played in the last week of February. The opening half hour produced more fouls than flowing play, with Atletico getting the better part of the rough-and-tumble start before they began to turn their possession into clear scoring chances.
Sevilla goalkeeper Antonio "Beto" Bastos, playing his first game since arriving on Wednesday from Sporting Braga, saved Jorge "Koke" Resurrecion's low strike before Adrian Lopez and Diego Costa both missed from close. Sevilla, meanwhile, were limited to a long-range try from Alvaro Negredo that goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois tipped over his bar.
The game came alive in the second half when both defenses had trouble keeping their hands off the ball. Diego Costa earned and converted his first spot kick in the 49th minute when Sevilla's Emir Spahic was shown his second yellow card after he fell in the box and hit the ball with his arm. Negredo got Sevilla a valuable away goal with a 56th minute penalty after Atletico defender Diego Godin was shown a straight red card for using his arm to block Negredo's chip shot.
Having pulled level both in goals and men, Sevilla momentarily took control for the first time in the match. But Diego Costa netted the winner from the spot in the 71st after Fernando Navarro handled the ball in similar fashion to Spahic, touching it after going down in front of his goal.
Navarro was then sent off in the 85th for a bad tackle on Diego Costa. "It was a very hard and demanding game," said coach Unai Emery, who had previously been undefeated in four games as Sevilla's new coach. "Atletico are having a great season and we knew that we had to be fully concentrated. "At 1-1, we were controlling the game. It's too bad we couldn't maintain it and have a go at them."