Atletico wins 4-2 at Rayo to move top of league

JOSEPH WILSON Associated Press Published:

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Diego Costa scored his 20th league goal of the season to help Atletico Madrid romp to a 4-2 win at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, provisionally lifting it to the top of the Spanish table.

Atletico's victory in the capital derby ended a run of two consecutive draws to move one point ahead of overnight leader Real Madrid. Barcelona can pull level with Atletico with a win at home over Malaga later Sunday.

"It was important to win after two draws," said Atletico striker David Villa, who downplayed the move to the top. "We had to win, that's the important thing, going ahead game by game. We can't think about the rest."

Diego Costa helped a tenacious Atletico attack to pick apart the worst defense in Spain, leaving Rayo with 51 goals conceded in 21 rounds.

Diego Costa only trails Madrid's 22-goal Cristiano Ronaldo as the league's leading scorer, and the Brazilian-born player's passing was key to Atletico's first two goals at Vallecas Stadium.

However, Atletico's win was tarnished by the apparent shoulder injury to young midfielder Oliver Torres in the second half.

Elsewhere, Athletic Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz scored two goals and set up another in a 5-1 rout at 10-man Osasuna as the Basque club strengthened its grip on fourth place. Almeria edged Getafe 1-0 courtesy of striker Jonathan Zongo's second-half header to escape the relegation zone.

Villa got Atletico rolling in the eighth minute after he stole the ball deep in Rayo's territory and worked a one-two passing combination with Diego Costa before firing in his 10th league goal of the season.

Rayo had an excellent chance to level four minutes later after Javier Manquillo tripped Alberto Bueno in the area, but Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had little problem punching out Jonathan Viera's spot kick.

Diego Costa and newcomer Jose Sosa both drew saves from goalkeeper Ruben Martinez before Arda Turan scored his first of two goals in the 30th to finish off a collective effort, with the ball flowing from Diego Costa through a generous Sosa for Turan to roll in.

Viera made up for his miss by scoring in the 40th, but Turan struck again in the 44th when he tapped in a free kick headed to the far post by Rayo defender Saul Niguez.

Diego Costa found the net for the first time in 2014 when he redirected Filipe Luis' cross in the 74th before Joaquin Larrivey responded almost immediately for Rayo's second.

Markel Susaeta, Ibai Gomez and Kike Sola also scored for Bilbao as it consolidates its place in the last Champions League spot.

Almeria's victory pushed Valladolid back down into the drop zone with Rayo Vallecano and Real Betis.