Atletico Madrid book Copa del Rey final spot
Madrid, Feb 28 : A storming first half show from Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa proved vital as his side assured a spot in the Copa del Rey final after a 2-2 draw at Sevilla.
Atletico Madrid progressed into the final with a 4-3 aggregate win Wednesday, booking a Madrid derby between them and Real Madrid, Xinhua reports.
Atletico went into the return leg of their semifinal away to Sevilla with a 2-1 lead from the first leg and knowing a win would see them take on their local rivals, who destroyed Barcelona in the Camp Nou Tuesday.
The two sides took to the pitch in the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium with an atmosphere that dignified the occasion and a rainstorm that added drama to the occasion, especially as a 1-0 win would have been enough to see the home side through to the final.
That scenario didn't last for long, however, as Costa was allowed time and space outside of the Sevilla penalty area and was able to fire a low right foot shot past Sevilla goalkeeper, Beto, into the back of the net.
On a wet and slick pitch, the pace of the game was fast and furious with neither side holding back in the tackle, but with Atletico sitting deep and then looking to link up Costa and Radamel Falcao on the break, the home side were unable to seriously threaten Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois.
After 29 minutes Costa and Falcao linked to perfection with Costa chasing down a ball down the left wing before reaching the goal-line. Falcao looked to be covered by the home defence, but his curling run took him onto the end of Costa's low pass and he slid the ball past Beto to double Atletico's lead.
The away goals rule meant Sevilla now needed four goals to qualify and credit to Unai emery's side who kept their heads up before Jesus Navas gave them a lifeline with a fine curling shot in off the post to make it 2-1 on the night.
Knowing it was all or nothing, Emery introduced striker, Manu Del Moral as a second half substitute for Reyes and was almost rewarded straight away as Del Moral saw a powerful shot well saved by Courtois.
It was just as exciting with Costa and Falcao missing chances to seal the tie, before Alvaro Negredo rose above the Atletico defence before heading a Navas cross wide when he looked certain to score.
That was the end of the football for a while as tempers boiled over and the game was interrupted by a series of fouls, which ended with Sevilla's Gary Medel sent off after totally losing control, with Costa, who in fairness had been provoking the greater part of the Sevilla team.
Credit to Sevilla who finally equalized in injury time through Ivan Rakitic to make it 2-2 on the night, but there was still time for Geoffrey Kondogbia to see a red card for another incident with Costa. It was not the sort of thing you want to see on a football pitch, but it did reflect the intensity of the occasion.