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Pedro hat-trick rescues weakened Barcelona

updated 5:40 PM EST, Sun December 22, 2013
Barcelona had reason to celebrate Sunday, coming back to beat Getafe 5-2 to return to the summit in La Liga.
Barcelona had reason to celebrate Sunday, coming back to beat Getafe 5-2 to return to the summit in La Liga.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Barcelona beats Getafe 5-2 to replace Atletico Madrid atop Spain's La Liga
  • Getafe took a 2-0 lead at home but a Pedro hat-trick gave Barca a halftime advantage
  • Barcelona won despite missing the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Xavi
  • Juventus maintained its five-point lead over Roma in Italy's Serie A

(CNN) -- When Barcelona trailed Getafe 2-0 on the road in La Liga on Sunday, things looked bleak for the defending champion.

It was still without talisman Lionel Messi and there was no Neymar, either, because the Brazilian was suspended. Midfield playmaker Xavi was the latest player to join the injury list.

But Barcelona still had Pedro, and the Spanish international forward netted a first half hat-trick to inspire a comeback 5-2 victory. Cesc Fabregas accounted for Barca's two other goals.

As a result Barcelona returned to first place on goal difference ahead of Atletico Madrid heading into the Christmas break. Atletico had rallied itself on Saturday, beating Levante 3-2.

"We maintained our form despite being down two goals and we ended up playing a really good game," Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino was quoted as saying by the club website.

Sergio Escudero and Lisandro Lopez gave Madrid-based Getafe the perfect start, scoring in the 10th and 14th minutes, respectively.

Not long after, however, Pedro took over with his nine-minute treble.

Fabregas set up his chip in the 34th minute, Pedro curled a shot into the top corner in the 41st and two minutes later he pounced from close range.

Pedro has scored in his last four starts and boosted his league tally to 10 to pass Messi for the team lead.

"He has a great capacity to score," said Martino. "Not only with Barca but with Spain as well. He never gives up. It doesn't matter if he's a starter or if he comes into the match as a sub, he doesn't give up."

Getafe -- which won four straight games in September and October but was thumped 7-0 by Atletico last month -- almost equalized early in the second half through Diego Castro.

That was its last real opportunity.

Pedro assisted on Fabregas' effort in the 68th minute and was subsequently fouled in the box.

Fabregas made no mistake from the spot in the 72nd minute.

Real Madrid later downed Valencia 3-2 away to once again pull within five points of the leaders.

Some would say Madrid was fortunate, since Cristiano Ronaldo's goal in the 40th minute might have been offside and Jese's winner in the 82nd came when Vicente Guaita was beaten at the near post.

A calf injury sidelined blockbuster summer signing Gareth Bale but his replacement, Angel di Maria, opened the scoring for Madrid.

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In Italy, Juventus has responded in the best possible fashion in Serie A after being knocked out of the Champions League.

It thumped Sassuolo 4-0 thanks to a Carlos Tevez hat-trick and the striker scored again in Sunday's 4-1 win at Atalanta.

Atalanta did have some reason to celebrate -- Maximiliano Moralez's goal in the 15th minute was the first the Old Lady conceded in the league in nine matches.

Roma kept pace, staying five points behind the defending champion, with a 4-0 win over last-place Catania.

Although still unbeaten in Serie A, Roma had drawn five of its six previous encounters.

In the Milan derby, a backheel four minutes from time from Rodrigo Palacio saw Inter prevail over AC Milan 1-0.

Inter rose to fifth but is 15 points behind Juventus, while Milan is only five points above the relegation zone.

To add to Milan's misery, Sulley Muntari received a red card in injury time.

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