Diego Costa said he always knew he would score again for Spain after netting twice in an 8-0 rout of Liechtenstein in their World Cup qualifying opener on Monday.
The Chelsea striker answered critics following a run of one goal in his 11 previous appearances for Spain by scoring the opener in the 10th minute, heading in former Atletico Madrid team mate Koke’s free kick.
“I had struggled because a striker always needs to score goals but now I’m participating more in the play and I knew the goals were going to come,” Costa told reporters.
Costa headed in Spain’s fifth goal on the rebound after holding off two defenders in the area, leaving the pitch to a raucous reception from the supporters in Leon when he was substituted.
The controversial striker has endured a difficult relationship with Spain fans since switching loyalties from his native Brazil in 2014.
Last week he complained of receiving differential treatment to his team mates because he is not a natural Spaniard.
Costa, however, was all smiles after scoring his first international goals since opening his Spain account against Luxembourg 23 months ago.
“I never complained about my team mates and I have to thank them because they always supported me and never allowed me to give up,” Costa added.
“Criticism is normal because Spain players are always asked to give more, but now things are going my way.”
Costa helped fire Atletico to the La Liga title in 2014 with 27 goals and that same year was convinced by Vicente del Bosque to switch nationalities, having made two appearances for Brazil in international friendlies.
Following an underwhelming second season with Chelsea and low-key international displays, however, Costa was left out of the squad for Spain’s Euro 2016 campaign when the 2010 world champions lost in the last 16.
Costa’s decisive appearances for Chelsea at the start of this campaign earned him a recall by Del Bosque’s successor Julen Lopetegui.
“Costa is looking good and I’m delighted for him,” added Koke, who won the King’s Cup and the La Liga title with Costa at Atletico.
“I hope we see the Diego Costa of Atletico and that he keeps delighting us. That would be great for Spain.”