Diego Costa - who else?

- headed a late goal to give Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win at AC Milan in their Champions League last-16, first-leg game last night after the hosts were twice denied by the woodwork in the opening period.

Costa scored at the far post after the Milan defence failed to clear a corner as the Spaniards won a fast, furious and often scrappy and bad-tempered match. Milan had created the better chances and were frustrated as Kaka had a delightful curling shot tipped on to the crossbar by Atletico goalkeeper Thibault Courtois who also deflected Andrea Poli's header on to the post in a dramatic first-half spell.

Loading article content

"It was a very difficult match against a great rival but we knew how to soak up the pressure and at the key moment we went after the win," Costa admitted. "We have a solid advantage and now it's about going back to the Calderon and maintaining it.

"It's not over yet but we know it's a good result tonight. We have confidence in ourselves. Some people have been doubting us recently but we have no doubts. We are a team and we are very strong."

Clarence Seedorf, who won the Champions League four times as a player with three different clubs, made his coaching debut in the competition in charge of Milan.

Seven-time champions Milan made a nervous start but soon starting racking up the first-half chances. Kaka went close, but his left-foot shot was tipped on the bar. Poli's header was also deflected on to the post, before Kaka went close again, curling a shot just over the frame of the goal. Balotelli then could not capitalise on a dreadful Gabi clearance.

It was left to Costa to show them how it should be done.