Diego Costa scores on his return, Atletico cruise in Copa del Rey
Diego Costa made a goalscoring return to action as Atletico Madrid brushed aside Lleida 4-0 in their Copa del Rey last-16 first-leg meeting on Wednesday night.
First-half strikes from Diego Godin and Fernando Torres put the visitors in charge as Diego Simeone's men looked fresh and raring to go after a fortnight off.
The introduction of Costa and fellow debutant Vitolo gave the second half some added spark and the Spain striker had barely been on the pitch five minutes when he swept home Juanfran's cross, much to the delight of his manager and Atleti fans across the land.
Fellow sub Antoine Griezmann rounded the scoring off in stoppage time with a deflected effort as Los Rojiblancos put more than one foot in the quarterfinals.
An easy win, a clean sheet and Costa looking like he has never been away. Happy days.
Hard to be critical. Perhaps Saul Niguez could be doing more to dominate in the centre of the park against such inferior opposition.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Simeone picked the right starting XI and will be delighted with what he saw from the subs, too.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Miguel Angel Moya, 6 -- Produced a couple of smart stops in the first period. Not overly tested thereafter.
DF Juanfran, 7 -- Dealt with what he had to in defence. Attacked with gusto and showed good vision to set Costa up for his goal.
DF Jose Maria Gimenez, 6 -- Quiet night at the office. Won a couple of important headers as the home side started well, but was largely untroubled.
DF Diego Godin, 7 -- Great leap to rise highest and open the scoring. Needs to score more of those kind of goals.
DF Lucas Hernandez, 6 -- A solid, if unspectacular performance from the young Frenchman. Final ball somewhat lacking, however that has to be expected from a centre-back playing out of position.
MF Angel Correa, 5 -- Unfortunately for Correa, every time the Argentine starts he looks more and more like the perfect impact substitute. Playing wide of a midfield four does not help, however his contributions are much more telling when coming on from the bench.
MF Augusto Fernandez, 6 -- Got another useful 90 minutes under his belt as he continues his recovery from a serious knee injury. Given the opposition he was probably an unnecessary luxury, but match fitness is key for the holding midfielder.
MF Saul Niguez, 6 -- Looked a Little rusty after a well-earned break. Saw a lot of the ball but unable to work his usual magic with it.
MF Yannick Carrasco, 7 -- Looked like a man with a point to prove. Took all the set pieces, set up the first and looked lively throughout. The arrival of Vitolo might mean the penny has dropped for the Belgian, who needs to be more consistent having lost his starting berth earlier this season.
FW Kevin Gameiro, 7 -- Not suited to playing against a deep-lying defence, but showed his quality as he produced a wonderful cross for Torres.
FW Fernando Torres, 7 -- Netted his third goal in his last two Copa del Rey games, showing a poacher's nose and determination to get on the end of Gameiro's great cross.
MF Vitolo (for Carrasco), 6 -- A low-key 30-minute cameo for the Canary Islander as he lined up on the left-hand side of a new-look front three.
FW Antoine Griezmann (for Torres), 7 -- Without wanting to speak too soon he very much looked on the same wavelength as his fellow two substitutes and Costa in particular. Got a slice of luck with his goal at the end, but Atleti need him firing for the second half of this season and it is a good start on that front.
FW Diego Costa (for Correa), 7 -- Needed less than five minutes on his second debut for Los Colchoneros to get back on the scoresheet. Looked like he had never been away, harrying defenders, using his pace and power to work attacks for his side. Got a knock to his knee but appeared to jog it off -- Atleti will hope that is the case, anyway.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.