Diego Costa scored on Atlético Madrid’s return to action, at Athletic Bilbao, and dedicated his goal to his club’s midfielder Virginia Torrecilla who is recovering from a brain tumour.
Costa celebrated with teammates after bringing Atlético level in the first half of their 1-1 draw at San Mamés before running to the touchline to hold up a shirt bearing Torrecilla’s name as a show of support for the Spanish women’s international who had surgery last month to remove a brain tumour.
The surgery, in Pamplona, was successful and she has since left hospital to continue her recovery. After seeing Costa’s gesture she tweeted: “I have no words …. YOU ARE AMAZING !! Thanks from my heart!!”
Torrecilla has made 63 appearances for Spain and played in all four of their games at last year’s World Cup.
On the field, Atlético missed out on the chance to capitalise on slip-ups by their rivals for Champions League places. Iker Muniain gave Athletic the lead in an empty San Mamés stadium by prodding home in the 37th minute to complete a clever move but Atlético responded two minutes later when Costa slotted in following a through ball from Koke.
Diego Simeone’s side had the best chance to win the game after the interval when the Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simón parried a cross from Renan Lodi into the path of Santiago Arias but the keeper recovered to block the rebound with his leg.
Atlético are sixth on 46 points, level with fifth-placed Getafe, who lost at Granada on Friday, and fourth-placed Real Sociedad, who host Osasuna later on Sunday.