Barça stay top of the league for another week after coming from behind to beat Getafe 2-5 this afternoon. There appeared to be a very good chance that Barça would lose the leader’s spot to Atlético Madrid when Sergio Escudero and Lisandro Lopez put Getafe into a 2-0 lead after just fourteen minutes. However, Barça hit back with a first-half hat-trick in the space of eight minutes from Pedro Rodriguez and two second half goals from Cesc Fabregas which leaves Tata Martino’s men level on 46 points with Atlético but with a two-goal advantage in goal difference.
The game was more complicated for Barça than the final scoreline suggests but it might have been easier had Piqué converted a chance after just three minutes. Alexis curled in a free-kick, there were touches from Sergi Roberto and Busquets and the ball fell to Piqué just six yards out but he prodded his shot straight at Getafe keeper Miguel Angel Moya.
Getafe made the most of the let-off and took the lead in the ninth minute. Left-back Escudero played the ball forward to Angel Lafita who held off Piqué’s challenge before slipping a back-heel pass into space for Escudero to chase, Alves couldn’t make up the ground and Escudero sped unchallenged into the area before shooting past Pinto who had failed to come out and narrow the angle.
If the defending was questionable for the first goal, what followed five minutes later was horrendous. Piqué conceded a corner and when Pedro Leon swung in the kick from the right, centre-back Lisandro completely escaped Busquets’ attention to head unmarked past Pinto.
There was little reaction from Barça in the following fifteen minutes as Getafe continued to show more aggression which left the fouls conceded count after half an hour at 8-3. Pedro had the ball in the net in the 19th minute though the referee Undiano Mallenco had blown for a very doubtful offside well before Pedro finished the move. Barça showed little more in attack apart from a couple of crosses from the left, and general poor quality of the visitors’ play was exemplified by Iniesta crossing straight out for a goal kick.
After thirty-four minutes there was little sign of what was to come. However, the game’s turning point came thanks to Alexis Sanchez’s insistence to keep chasing when others would have stopped. The ball appeared to be running out for a throw-in ten yards inside Barça’s half, Alexis just kept the ball in before spinning away from an opponent and sending a swift pass forward to Fabregas who quickly played the ball on for Pedro who ran clear of the defence before scoring from 25 yards with a shot that Moya touched but couldn’t stop.
Barça were surprisingly back in the game and three minutes later there was a good chance for an equalizer. Alves picked out Sergi Roberto’s run into the box but the youngster blazed his shot just over from ten yards. Fortunately for Barça Pedro had set his sights better, a couple of minutes later Getafe gave the ball away to Iniesta who swept the ball quickly left to Pedro who cut inside Juan Valera before cracking a shot inside the far post.
Getafe were stunned by the double blow but Pedro hadn’t finished yet. In the 43rd minute Alba found Fabregas who sent a splendid pass back for the advancing left-back whose cross hit Valera, and Pedro was quickest to pounce and smash the loose ball firmly past Moya for his hat-trick. Getafe’s frustration was demonstrated by an ugly tackle by Pedro Mosquera on Busquets on the stroke of half-time which probably deserved more than the yellow card shown by Undiano.
Getafe came out strongly again after the break though Barça now looked more solid in defence. Ciprian Marica proved a handful for Piqué and Mascherano but he only succeeded in winning a couple of corners, and when he did have a half-chance after Mascherano’s slip his control let him down. There was little danger on either goal for the first fifteen minutes of the second half but then in the 60th minute Ciprian made a good run followed by an excellent outside-of-the-foot pass for Diego Castro but Getafe’s left-winger sent his shot narrowly wide of the far post.
The close shave demonstrated the fragility of Barça’s lead and the danger of playing a containing game. Barça began to push forward in search of another goal. Fabregas headed over under pressure and soon after Alexis tried his luck from 25 yards but also failed to hit the target. Then in the 68th minute Alves gave a poor ball straight to Getafe but Busquets was quick to win it straight back, Busquets then took the ball forward 40 yards almost to the edge of the Getafe penalty area before passing left to Fabregas who couldn’t find a way through so the Barça number four played it back to Busquets who quickly switched play to Pedro on the right who crossed to the far post where Fabregas arrived to hammer home a left-foot volley from close range.
This goal killed off Getafe. Soon after, Pedro fired just over after Sergi Roberto’s pass. Then in the 71st minute Fabregas found Pedro in the area and Borja Fernandez flew in with a clumsy foul which gave Undiano little option but to point to the penalty spot. Fabregas fooled Moya with a pause in his run-up before sending the keeper the wrong way with his kick.
There was little more of note. Martino replaced his two goalscorers with Tello and Song, while Busquets picked up a late ‘tactical’ yellow card, which means he will miss the next league game against Elche but be available for the following week’s top-of-the-table clash at Atlético, before being subbed off for Bartra.
Getafe: Moya; Valera, Lisandro, Alexis Ruano, Escudero; Mosquera, Borja Fernandez; Pedro Leon, Lafita (Gavilan m80), Diego Castro (Sarabia m71); Ciprian (Colunga m59).
Barça: Pinto 5.5; Alves 6, Piqué 5.5, Mascherano 6, Alba 7; Sergi Roberto 5.5, Busquets 6 (Bartra m89, –), Iniesta 6; Alexis 7, Fabregas 8 (Song m86, –), Pedro 9 (Tello m80, –).
Goals: m11 Escudero 1-0, m14 Lisandro 2-0, m35 Pedro 2-1, m41 Pedro 2-2, m43 Pedro 2-3, m68 Fabregas 2-4, m72 Fabregas (pen) 2-5.
Yellow cards: m30 Alves, m45 Mosquera, m54 Piqué, m70 Lisandro, m84 Borja, m85 Alexis Ruano, m86 Busquets (misses next match vs Elche)