Betis had gone toe-to-toe with Atletico until Braian Rodriguez’s sending off in the second half, at which point goals from Gabi Fernandez and Costa unravelled the home side’s resolve.
The result draws Atletico level with Real Madrid on 70 points, although Carlo Ancelotti’s side can return to the top of the pile with just a point in the Clasico
The first half saw little in the way of clear-cut, goalscoring opportunities but was eventful nonetheless, with Costa in bullish mood throughout the opening 45 minutes.
And the Brazilian-born striker had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside, lashing in at the near post after controlling a flick-on, but the linesman’s flag denied him.
However, the dynamic of the game shifted in 56th minute, when Rodriguez was shown a second yellow card for a blatant handball.
Atletico made the most of their man advantage just two minutes later, when Gabi found the bottom corner of Adan’s net with a measured strike from the edge of the penalty area.
And Costa made it 2-0 after 65 minutes, showing great opportunistic instinct to anticipate a knock-on from Arda Turan and fire home from eight yards.
24’ RULED OUT – Costa has the ball in the net but it's been ruled out for offside! The Brazilian-born striker smashed home at the near post but he was adjudged to have strayed offside from a flick on in the box.
49’ WOODWORK – Betis hit the post! Molina slips through Juan Carlos, who comes from deep to break through the Atletico defence, but he shoots across goal and onto the woodwork, with the ball bouncing clear. So close!
56’ RED CARD – Betis have been reduced to ten men! Rodriguez has been shown a second yellow card for one of the most blatant hand balls you're ever likely to see. He literally beat the ball away from Juanfran. Foolish.
59’ GOAL – The visitors make the most of their man advantage, with Gabi finding the bottom corner of Adan's net with a measured strike from 20 yards.
64’ GOAL – And there's the second goal. Costa latches on to Turan's flick-on in behind the Betis defence and the Brazilian-born striker smashes into the bottom corner.
77’ WHOOPS! – Villa stops Costa's header from finding the net! The Brazilian born striker meets Koke's freekick and has the ball headed into the net for 3-0, but it strikes an offside Villa and flies wide. Unfortunate for the away team.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid): The Brazilian-born striker was more of a hindrance than a help in the first half, but after the break he focused on the game and proved the difference between the two sides. His goal was a wonderful display of opportunistic instinct and sealed the win.
Diego Costa has scored 23 goals this season, just one fewer than Radamel Falcao managed in his first La Liga campaign.
Atletico Madrid played a total of 504 passes, compared to Real Betis’ 292 total passes.
TALKING POINT: Can Diego Costa keep his head in the title run-in? This game demonstrated the best and worst of the Atletico striker. In the first half he was distracted by a battle with Paulao, showing his petulant and generally unlikeable side. Yet in the second half he looked focussed and netted a great goal. Can Diego Simeone get Costa to play like the striker that turned up for the second half for the rest of the season?
Real Betis: Adan 6, Chica 6, Paulao 6, Jordi 5, Amaya 5, Juan Carlos 7, N’Diaye 5, Reyes 5, Juanfran 6, Rodriguez 3, Molina 4. Subs – Nono 5, Cedric 5, Matilla 5.
Atletico Madrid: Courtois 5, Juanfran 5, Miranda 6, Godin 5, Filipe 7, Gabi 7, Suarez 6, Koke 7, Turan 7, Garcia 6, Costa 8. Subs – Villa 5, Diego 5.
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