Would Atletico Madrid still be in with a chance of winning this season’s La Liga title had Diego Costa kept his cool at the Camp Nou on Saturday night?
We’ll never know for sure, but it’s fair to say that Atletico would have stood a better chance of beating Barcelona if their centre-forward had avoided his needless red card midway through the first half.
Diego Simeone’s side were forced to play for an hour with 10 men after Costa insulted referee Jesus Gil Manzano, who was left with little option but to send the Spaniard off.
Manzano’s referee’s report reveals Costa said to him "I s*** on your wh*** mother, I s*** on your wh*** mother.”
It’s also claimed the former Chelsea star grabbed Manzano’s arm as he tried to book Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, before calling the referee a “son of a b***ch.”
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Costa was then grabbed by the mouth by his former international teammate Gerard Pique.
Pique clearly felt Costa needed to stop talking and get off the pitch as quickly as possible - or risk getting himself in further trouble.
And now Spanish newspaper AS have revealed that Pique told Costa: “Stop talking now! What do you want, a four-match ban?"
This seemed to knock some sense into Atletico’s No. 19, who then walked off the pitch and towards the tunnel.
Fair play to Pique for intervening. He may well have saved Costa from a long ban by telling him to stop talking and get off the pitch.
Costa’s teammates, on the other hand, were too busy protesting the original decision.
They obviously hadn’t heard what Costa had said to the match official.
However, even Simeone admitted after the match that Costa deserved to be shown a straight red if the referee’s versions of events is accurate.
“I asked the referee if what he said was so bad because we have seen Barca players do the same thing, saying things right in the referee’s face and they did not get sent off, they got away with it,” Simeone was quoted as saying by Reuters after the match.
“If Costa really said what the referee claims he did then he was correctly sent off.”
Thanks in part to Costa’s petulance, Atletico’s chances of catching Barcelona in the title race now appear to be over.
The Catalan giants’ 2-0 victory means they now have a seemingly unassailable 11-point lead with only seven games of the campaign left to play.News Now - Sport News