The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Atletico's gamble on Diego Costa backfires in Champions League final loss to Real
LISBON, Portugal - The gamble on Diego Costa proved costly for Atletico Madrid.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone decided to put the injured striker in the starting lineup for Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid — a move that backfired immediately as Costa had to hobble off after just nine minutes.
Atletico — left with just two more substitutions — then tired in extra time as Real won 4-1.
"No doubt the fact Diego played was my responsibility and I made a mistake," Simeone said. "He was obviously not in playing conditions."
Costa was back in the starting lineup just one week after leaving early with a right hamstring injury in a 1-1 draw at Barcelona that secured the Spanish league title. With the European Cup on the line, Costa had seen a doctor specializing in using fluid derived from horse placenta to repair damaged cells.
But Costa's return proved rushed as the Brazilian-born Spain striker looked hesitant from the start at the Stadium of Light. He was taken off for Adrian Lopez moments after his first touch of the game.
"Our looks crossed and we knew," Simeone said of the decision to replace Costa. "I didn't want to lose time in this game playing with one player less. It just couldn't be."
Atletico led through Diego Godin's first-half header before Real sent the game to extra time when Sergio Ramos headed in the equalizer in the third minute of injury time.
Atletico struggled to contain Madrid's pace and counterattacks in the extra period as fullback Juanfran Torres played through an apparent foot injury, unable to exit as his team had no substitutions remaining.
Gareth Bale jumped high above substitute Toby Alderweireld to head home the winning goal in the 110th-minute before Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo polished off Real's record 10th European Cup.
Costa led Atletico with 36 goals this season, and his injury comes ahead of the World Cup in Brazil next month.
"I don't know if he'll have a problem" playing in the World Cup, Simeone said. "We'll have to talk to him and the doctors and see."
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