Barcelona returned to the top of the La Liga table with a comeback, 5-2 victory at Getafe on Sunday.
Pedro scored a nine-minute hat trick in the first half as Barcelona erased an early 2-0 deficit. Cesc Fabregas added two goals in the second half, including a penalty. Both players also added one assist each.
Getafe had led 2-0 through 15 minutes. Sergio Escudero put the hosts ahead in the 10th minute, and Lisandro Lopez doubled their advantage four minutes later.
With the win, Barcelona moved level on 46 points with Atletico Madrid atop the table. Barca head into the winter break in first place by virtue of their superior goal differential.
"We are growing and that’s what we have to focus on," Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino said, per FCBarcelona.com. "We maintained our form despite being down two goals and we ended up playing a really good game."
"Tata" Martino had to shuffle his attack due to the absences of Lionel Messi and Neymar. Messi is still recovering from an injury, and Neymar was serving a suspension after being booked—his fifth yellow card of the season—last week against Villarreal.
With his superstars out of action, Martino selected a front three of Cesc, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez. Backing them was a midfield trio of Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Sergi Roberto, who was making his first league start.
But even without Messi and Neymar, Barcelona's attacking quality was beyond question against Getafe. On the contrary, their defensive frailties were again obvious.
The Catalans needed to win by two goals to guarantee sole possession of first place ahead of Atletico Madrid, who had won 3-2 at home to Levante on Saturday. But Barca found themselves behind by two within 15 minutes.
After Getafe's Ciprian Marica tested Jose Pinto with a long shot in the opening minute, Barca's Alexis Sanchez had a free kick on the right two minutes later. Alexis curled in a free kick from the right, and after being teed up by Busquets, Gerard Pique shot straight at Miguel Moya from close range.
Then the hosts went ahead in the 10th minute. Escudero started the move on the right before receiving a clever back-heel pass back from Angel Lafita. With acres of space to exploit on the left side of the box, Escudero calmly finished under Pinto for a 1-0 lead.
Sandro Rosell may have to bust out the checkbook to sign a defender in a few days. Won't win La Liga win this inconsistent defending.— Xoel Càrdenas (@XoelCardenas) December 22, 2013
It was 2-0 just four minutes later. Getafe won a corner on the right, and Pedro Leon curled his kick into the middle for Lopez. Unmarked, Lopez directed a simple header into the net.
Previous time Barcelona conceded twice in first 15 min of Liga game was more than 6 years ago #fcblive 20 Oct 2007 v Villarreal [via mrchip]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) December 22, 2013
Facing an early two-goal deficit, Barcelona promptly poured forward in search of goals. By halftime, they would be ahead 3-2, thanks to Pedro's nine-minute hat trick.
Pedro thought he had scored for Barcelona in the 20th minute, but he was ruled offside after running onto Sergi's through pass. It didn't take him long to find the net again.
In the 34th minute, Cesc received a pass on the midway line, turned and slotted a pass through to Pedro. Pedro lobbed the goalkeeper—who got a touch to the ball on its way into the net—to make it 2-1. Getafe's players hesitated in the buildup, thinking the ball had crossed the touchline in Barcelona's half.
Barca could have been level moments later when Dani Alves freed Sergi on the right, but the youngster shot high and wide. It really was 2-2 in the 41st minute, though, and Pedro was the scorer again. This time the Spaniard shot superbly past Moya into the top corner for the equalizer.
Getafe were reeling, but it would soon become worse. In the 43rd minute, Getafe defender Juan Valera redirected Jordi Alba's pass into Pedro's path, and Pedro made it 3-2 with a composed finish.
Suddenly behind 3-2, Getafe came close to an equalizer in the 60th minute. But Diego Castro's shot went narrowly wide of the far post.
Barcelona scored their fourth in the 68th minute after a flowing team move. Sergio Busquets passed from the middle to Pedro on the right, and Pedro crossed to Cesc at the back post, where the Spaniard volleyed in first time.
Now facing their own two-goal deficit, Getafe began to show frustration. Lopez was booked in the 70th minute, and one minute later the hosts conceded a penalty when Borja fouled Pedro in the box.
Cesc converted the penalty in the 72nd minute, sending Moya the wrong way to complete the scoring at 5-2.
"Pedro played a fantastic match and the team did as well," Martino said, per FCBarcelona.com. "He has a great capacity to score, but not only with Barça but with Spain as well."
Busquets' 5th Liga yellow this season, he'll miss next game against Elche at home #fcblive— FCBarcelona (@BarcaStat) December 22, 2013
|Jose Manuel Pinto||6||6|
|Cristian Tello (for Pedro 80')||N/A||6|
|Alex Song (for Cesc 86')||N/A||6|
|Marc Bartra (for Sergio Busquets 89')||N/A||6|
This was the final league match of 2013 for both teams.
Barcelona resume league play Jan. 5 with a home match against Elche. Getafe play at Sevilla the same day.