‘I knew the goals would come’ as Diego Costa carries Chelsea form over to Spain

Diego Costa said he always knew he would score again for Spain after netting twice in an 8-0 rout of Liechtenstein in their World Cup qualifying opener on Monday.
Diego Costa, centre, celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal against Liechtenstein in 2018 World Cup qualifying. Eloy Alonso / Reuters
Diego Costa, centre, celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal against Liechtenstein in 2018 World Cup qualifying. Eloy Alonso / Reuters

Diego Costa said he always knew he would score again for Spain after netting twice in an 8-0 rout of Liechtenstein in their World Cup qualifying opener on Monday.

The Chelsea striker, 27, answered critics following a run of one goal in his 11 previous appearances for Spain by scoring the opener in the 10th minute, heading in former Atletico Madrid teammate Koke’s free kick.

“I had struggled because a striker always needs to score goals, but now I’m participating more in the play and I knew the goals were going to come,” Costa said.

Costa headed in Spain’s fifth goal on the rebound after holding off two defenders in the area, leaving the pitch to a raucous reception from the supporters in Leon when he was substituted.

More international football:

• 2018 World Cup qualifying: Spain smash Liechtenstein, Gareth Bale guides Wales, Kosovo create history

• Ian Hawkey: Minus Cristiano Ronaldo, European champions Portugal must overcome jittery starts

• UAE v Australia: Four keys for UAE to beat Australia in their 2018 World Cup qualifying contest

The striker has endured a difficult relationship with Spain fans since switching loyalties from his native Brazil in 2014.

Last week he complained of receiving differential treatment to his teammates because he is not a natural Spaniard.

Costa, however, was all smiles after scoring his first international goals since opening his Spain account against Luxembourg 23 months ago.

“I never complained about my teammates and I have to thank them because they always supported me and never allowed me to give up,” he said.

“Criticism is normal because Spain players are always asked to give more, but now things are going my way.”

Costa helped fire Atletico to the Primera Liga title in 2014 with 27 goals and that same year was convinced by Vicente del Bosque to switch nationalities, having made two appearances for Brazil in international friendlies.

Following an underwhelming second season with Chelsea and low-key international displays, however, Costa was left out of the squad for Spain’s Euro 2016 campaign when the 2010 world champions lost in the last 16.

Costa’s decisive appearances for Chelsea at the start of this season earned him a recall by Del Bosque’s successor Julen Lopetegui.

“Costa is looking good and I’m delighted for him,” said Koke, who won the Copa del Rey and Primera Liga title with Costa at Atletico.

“I hope we see the Diego Costa of Atletico and that he keeps delighting us. That would be great for Spain.”

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Published: September 6, 2016 04:00 AM

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