Diego Costa (19) celebrates one of his four goals with his teammates. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It’s a good thing for Real Madrid that its Friday night game against Atletico Madrid was a preseason friendly at MetLife Stadium.
Diego Costa recorded a hat-trick by halftime en route to a four-goal performance as Atletico embarrassed its La Liga rivals in a 7-3 triumph.
Costa was sent off in the 63rd minute for fighting in front of a capacity crowd.
Well, at least Atletico had some fight, Madrid certainly didn’t.
“We started the game very poorly. In a top-level match such as this, we had a very bad start, Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane said. “The players are well aware and they’re disappointed.
“We don’t need to dwell on it, this is a pre-season game. They were better in every respect and that’s all there is to it.”
The first meeting outside of Europe between the Madrid rivals turned out to be an abysmal night for Zidane’s Real Madrid, who saw Serbian starlet Luka Jovic hobble off after a collision with Atletico goal keeper Jan Oblak in the 24th minute.
Portuguese native Joao Felix, 19, who signed from Benfica this month for $142 million, scored his first goal for Atletico and set up two more.
Angel Correa also scored for Atletico, who had run the score to 5-0 at halftime and 6-0 before Real Madrid scored.
Costa set the tone in the first minute with a goal off a Felix assist. Felix found the in the eighth minute, slotting home a ball that was cut back to him by Saul Niguez.
Real keeper Thibaut Courtois could only watch Correa’s 19th-minute blast into the bottom left corner of the net and the rout was on. Costa tallied his second goal to make it 4-0 in the 28th minute.
Costa made it 5-0 at the half, converting a penalty kick after he was fouled by Isco.
Atletico’s boosted its lead to 6-0 in the 51st minute when Costa teamed with Felix for his fourth score past goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Eden Hazard pulled back a goal for Real in the 59th minute with a cross that Nacho knocked over the line.
Minutes later Daniel Carvajal’s late challenge on Thomas Lemar saw tempers flare, as Costa and Carvajal sent off.
Atletico tallied its seventh goal in the 70th minute behind Vitolo’s brilliant run as he stole the ball and beat two Real players.
Karim Benzema converted an 85th-minute penalty and Javi Hernandez tallied four minutes lead to close out the scoring.