The result reduces the gap between Atleti and Real Madrid, who won at Malaga earlier on Saturday, to three points, with Barcelona set to play Osasuna on Sunday.
A hard fought first half saw few clear-cut chances created by either side, with Costa coming closest with a glancing header across the face of goal and just past the post.
Filipe Luis looked to have played through on goal just before the half-hour mark, drawing a magnificent close range save out of Kiko Casilla, but the flag had been raised, rendering the move void.
Atletico Madrid finally found the breakthrough after 55 minutes, when Costa linked up with David Villa to pick a way through the packed Espanyol defence, with the Brazilian born striker roiling the ball past Casilla.
Thibaut Courtois sustained a head knock late in the second half after a clash from Jhon Cordoba. However, the Belgian keeper was kept on the pitch despite looking less than 100 percent.
22’ CHANCE - Very close from Costa! The Brazilian born striker loses his marker at the near post to meet a cross from the left wing, but he puts his glancing header across the face of goal and just past the target.
26’ PENALTY? – Big shouts for an Atletico Madrid penalty kick! Costa is played through, but just when he looks set to pull the trigger he is bundled over by Fuentes. However the referee waves away the claims.
55’ GOAL – Atletico have the breakthrough at last! Villa and Costa link up well to release the latter through on goal and the Brazilian born striker rolls the ball past Casilla.
65’ SO CLOSE – Costa almost scores an incredible goal! He beats one, two, three, shrugs off the tackle of several players, stays on his feet and tries to round the keeper. But he takes it too wide and blasts the ball over the bar!
66’ CHANCE – Courtois forced into a good save! Lopez lines up a shot from the edge of the box, but with the strike collecting a deflection the Atletico keeper is forced into action, getting down well to make the stop.
74’ HEAD KNOCK - Courtois is receiving treatment at the moment. Replays show he was caught in the head by the boot of Cordoba as he stretched for the ball.
Gabi Ferrnandez is the first Atletico Madrid player to have completed 1,000 passes this season.
Diego Costa has now scored 22 goals this season, only two less than Radamel Falcao scored in his first season at the club.
TALKING POINT – Should Courtois continued the game after suffering a head knock?
The Belgian keeper looked groggy after a collision with Cordoba late in the second half, yet Simeone kept Courtois on the pitch despite having a substitution left to make. With concussion in football a hot topic at the moment was that a reckless decision?
MAN OF THE MATCH – Diego Costa
This was only the Brazilian-born striker’s fourth league goal of 2014, but after his impressive display against Milan during the week Costa was once again the difference for Atletico. His tenacity in attack gives Simeone’s side a competitive edge that matches his own personality. He is undoubtedly Atletico’s player of the season.
Atletico Madrid – Courtois 6, Juanfran 6, Luis 5, Godin 5, Alderweireld 6, Gabi 6, Tiago 5, Sosa 6, Turan 7, Villa 7, Costa 8. Subs – Koke 6, Diego 5.
Espanyol – Casilla 6, Lopez 5, Colotto 5, Moreno 5, Fuentes 6, Sanchez 6, Lopez 6, Stuani 5, Pizzi 5, Simao 4, Garcia 7. Subs – Cordoba 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Atletico Madrid
- Real Madrid
- Diego Costa
- Diego Simeone