Liga - Atletico keep pace with Barca thanks to Costa double

Diego Costa scored twice as Atletico Madrid beat Valencia 3-0 to maintain their winning home run this season and keep pace with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

Liga - Atletico keep pace with Barca thanks to Costa double

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Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa celebrates after scoring his second goal from the penalty spot against Valencia during their Spanish first division soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid December 15, 2013 (Reuters)

The in-form forward broke the deadlock just before the hour mark and with Valencia's resistance broken Raul Garcia added a second moments later.

Costa then missed a penalty but made amends from the spot with nine minutes to go, allowing him to draw level with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo with 17 goals this season.

"You need to show personality and fight for your achievements so after missing the first penalty I wanted to take the second," Costa told reporters.

"Valencia played well in the first half and we knew that we had to do a bit more especially in attack which we did."

Atletico are level on 43 points with Barcelona, who beat Villarreal 2-1 on Saturday, while Real Madrid lost further ground following a 2-2 draw at Osasuna and now sit five points off the pace in third spot.

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