Barcelona will end 2013 on top of La Liga after a quick-fire hat-trick from Pedro inspired his side to come from two goals down to thump Getafe 5-2 at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez in Madrid. A fast start form the home side saw them race into a two-goal lead through Sergio Escudero and Lisandro Lopez, but Pedro struck three times in a 10 minute spell just before the interval to decisively turn the tide in the visitors’ favor. With the wind firmly taken out of Getafe’s sails, Cesc Fabregas added two more after the break, the second from the penalty spot.
With Lionel Messi still out injured and Neymar, who had six goals in his previous three appearances, suspended, Barcelona needed someone to fill the void. Pedro was the man to step up as he recorded his second hat-trick in the league this season to take his tally in the competition into double figures, as well as playing a key role in Barcelona’s other two goals.
The result was a welcome relief for coach Tata Martino who continues to face criticism, despite the positive results, and must have been fearing the worst after a disastrous first 15 minutes. Problems still remain, both on and off the pitch, but he can take solace from having dropped just five points thus far in La Liga; the same record as Atletico Madrid, who sit in second on goal difference.
In their final match of the year, it appeared initially that Barcelona had elected to take their festive break early. While they might have gone in front inside the opening two minutes when Gerard Pique failed to take advantage of the ball finding its way to him six yards from a free-kick, the Catalans were crudely exposed at the other end.
In the 10th minute a clever flick from Angel Lafita got Escudero clean through down the left hand side and the full-back took the ball all the way to the left edge of the six yard box before drilling low past Jose Manuel Pinto, who might have done better.
A host of Barcelona players might have given a better account of themselves as Getafe took a 2-0 lead. A corner form the right found Lisandro Lopez completely free, and with Pinto rooted to his line, the central defender directed a simple header into the bottom corner.
The wide open nature of the contest continued with Ciprian Marica failing to make the most of a two-on-one breakaway and Pedro being wrongly ruled offside when he had a clear run on goal. While they were harshly done by on that occasion, the visitors appeared to get the benefit of a decision from the officials to get on the score-sheet in the 34th minute.
The ball looked to have gone out of play on the right touchline before Alexis Sanchez retrieved it and set a break in motion. The Chilean played it inside to Fabregas who quickly found the run of Pedro and the sprightly wide forward lobbed the exposed Miguel Angel Moya, whose fingertips were unable to prevent the effort trickling into the net.
In the space of three minutes, Pedro then turned a deficit into an advantage heading into half-time. Getafe’s defending left much to be desired when Pedro was found in yards of space down the left and was then given license to cut inside before hitting a spectacular effort into the far top corner of the net. More bad defending saw the Spain international get his hat-trick. On this occasion the hosts failed to deal with a pull-back from Jordi Alba, with a tumbling defender only able to deflect the ball into Pedro’s path who finished clinically with his left foot.
Getafe squandered a chance to get back on level terms just after the interval when Marica’s touch let him down, but Getafe faded as a force in the second half, as Barcelona took a stranglehold on the game.
Victory was all-but confirmed in the 68th minute when Pedro turned creator with a chipped cross to the far post that found Fabregas completely unmarked to volley emphatically into the net from close range. And the win was complete four minutes later after Pedro had been knocked to the ground in the box by a clumsy challenge by Borja. Fabregas took the honors from the spot and coolly sent Moya the wrong way.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.