Graham Hunter: Atletico dangerman Diego out to win no matter what Costa

Atletico Madrid celebrate with the trophy following the UEFA Super Cup between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Lillekula Stadium on August 15, 2018 in Tallinn, Estonia.
Atletico Madrid celebrate with the trophy following the UEFA Super Cup between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Lillekula Stadium on August 15, 2018 in Tallinn, Estonia.

I only hope you were watching. I hope you thrilled to every last second of Atlético Madrid becoming the ninth Spanish winner of the European Supercup in the last 10 finals.

There was so much quality, so many twists, such frenetic energy and, ultimately, so many story lines – and all of this in mid-August in a 15,000 capacity stadium up in a Baltic state where men and women dressed like the characters from Vulgaria in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film danced quaintly before the real bang-bang started in an explosive match.

Let me dance lightly across the high points of Atlético beating Real Madrid 4-2.

Diego Costa is a blooming swine. I say that even though he could duff me up. And probably will if he reads this.

I spend the summer in Russia, sweltering in 45 degree heat in Krasnodar, only to see a Diego Costa who was a kilo or two heavier than Wednesday night amble through Spain’s final two games and look as if his legs were carrying lead weights while Russia eliminated a side which could, and should, have won the World Cup.

On Wednesday against Real Madrid, where he scored twice and helped create the fourth goal for Cholo Simeone’s side, in a win which tasted so sweet to them given their recent European record against Los Blancos, Costa was chiselled.

He was as lean, as muscular, as ready and as switched-on as when, all those years ago while he played at Valladolid, I recommended him to Newcastle manager Alan Pardew who asked me to ‘find the next Fernando Torres’.

Which is why I’m ticked off with Costa. He sank Spain’s (and thus my) World Cup with a display in Moscow which Benny from Crossroads would have been ashamed of, then with only 20 days of training under his belt for Atleti this summer, went out and looked as if he’d been thrown out of the SAS for making marines look soft.

His goal just a few seconds after the pea stopped bouncing around inside in the Polish referee’s whistle was utter dynamite.

Long ball, no chance. But Sergio Ramos outjumped, Rafa Varane intimidated into not challenging then a howitzer shot home. Then, after a super 2-1 fightback from the European champions a tap-in after Marcelo, ludicrously, kept the ball in play with 11 minutes left but only helped Atleti to make it 2-2.

Late on, after Thomas ‘Where’s the’ Partey crossed for Saúl to volley home what may, already, be the goal of the season, Costa mauled Madrid’s right back Dani Carvajal (let’s call it Doug Rougvie style) and set the ball back for Vitolo who had all the time in the world to give Koke the goal assist.

So, joking aside, kudos to Costa who was the man of the match and who found both the time and the energy to also keep his running battle with Sergio Ramos at or around volcanic level all night. These two ruffians, these two football outlaws!

I can tell you from having travelled on numerous flights with them and stayed in the same hotels during two World Cups now that they are thick as thieves.

They see life the same way – rules are for suckers, elbows are for jabbing, trophies are for lifting and it’s all the sweeter if you’ve trod on someone’s back to get onto the podium.

The trouble is that when Costa plays like this, like some football Terminator, and Atlético work brutally hard behind him there’s a chance, just a chance mind you, that either La Liga, the Champions League, or both could be within their grasp.

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