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Atletico remains atop La Liga

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Today, Spanish Football's Atletico Madrid beat hosts Getafe 2-0 in an ugly battle between relegation- threatened and table-leader squads, at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. The game marked Diego Costa's return from injury, an important development for the Madrid side's hopes in all competitions ahead.

After the win, Atletico Madrid sits at 82 points in the La Liga table, followed by Real Madrid at 79 and Barcelona at 78. Atletico has the tie-breaker over Real Madrid, goal differential in head-to-heads. The Colchoneros must play the Catalans, with whom they tied 0-0 earlier, on the last day of the season in what could amount to a final for the title if Atletico falters at any time. With a four point cushion though, if both Atletico and Barcelona win all their games up until that showdown, a Barcelona win then would still leave them a point behind and make Atletico the La Liga champs.

Taking the southbound 14 minute drive on the A-22 from Vicente Calderon to Getafe was the only easy part of Atletico's away stint today. The Azulones were provocative from the get go as they welcomed Costa's first two touches of the ball with fouls. The rough play, that soon infected both teams, was so constant that yellows were handed out at the 15th, 21st, 24th and 42nd minutes.

Fortunately, to break that thread, at the 40th minute, Diego Godin found Getafe goalkeeper, Jordi Codina, way out of position on a cross. The Uruguayan defender easily headed into the empty goal for the Atletico lead.

The game ended 1-0 at half-time with many more rough play and complaints about it from players on both sides. As the teams came off the pitch players were still pushing each other around.

The second half was just as relentlessly rough and the four yellows by half-time were nearly doubled by match's end.

At the 64th minute a penalty and red card for Getafe’s Angel Lafita were awarded. Frankly there were two grab and pull-down fouls in the box and either could have been called for a penalty and a card. A minute later Costa took the penalty shot and keeper Codina guessed correctly diving to his left and saving the shot.

The game seemed to reach some other plane of urgency and the toughness simply kept pace. Getafe had a few chances to tie the score and Atletico responded with more chances to pull an extra goal ahead. At the 84th minute Costa scored Atletico’s second with his left foot from close in. In doing so he just about took the post with his slide and his injury required he be carted off the field. Subsequent reports indicated the injury looked worse than it was, though, and Twitter feeds from Atletico’s PR staff indicated the post had taken the harder hit.

These have been quite some weeks for Spanish Football at home and abroad and it will not let up any time soon. On Wednesday we have the Copa del Rey final and soon thereafter both Real and Atletico will be hosting the first legs of their Champions League semifinal ties in Madrid.

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