Diego Costa Sells Penalty, Spain Takes 1-0 Lead on the Netherlands

By Mike Cardillo

Diego Costa got the memo: the 2014 FIFA World Cup cannot go 30 minutes without a controversial decision from the referee. This time Costa made sure to sell a sweeping challenge by Stefan de Vrij inside the box, earning Spain a penalty kick in the first half vs. the Netherlands. De Vrij appeared to miss Costa with the initial challenge, but caught Costa with the trailing leg, prompting referee Nicola Rizzoli to point to the spot. In fairness, it’s a difficult call for a ref to make in real time. (Either way, Scott Hall probably appreciated the sell job by Costa.)

Xabi Alonso converted the kick to put the defending champions ahead in a rematch of the 2010 final.

Costa also got the memo from teammate Sergio Busquets: when in doubt, go to ground and sell it at the slightest bit of contact. Costa, born in Brazil but naturalized for Spain ahead of the tournament, has been booed by the home fans throughout the match.