Pedro fires Barcelona to rout
Pedro scored a hat-trick and and Victor Valdes saved another penalty in Barcelona's 4-0 win at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, keeping the defending La Liga champions with a 100 per cent record after five matches.
Pedro scored from a pass by Lionel Messi in the 33rd minute before Valdes saved his second penalty in four days, following his stop in Wednesday's 4-0 over Ajax in the Champions League.
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The Spain forward added two more goals in the 47th and 72nd minutes to complete his treble. He has five goals this season, making him the league's second-leading scorer behind Messi with six.
Cesc Fabregas capped the rout in the 80th minute with Rayo bravely searching for a consolation goal.
The entertaining victory gave Barcelona an overnight five-point advantage over Real Madrid before they host Getafe on Sunday.
A ball stolen by Alex Song led to Barcelona's opener. Messi took the ball, drew in the hosts' defence, and laid off for Pedro arriving down the right side to drive a low shot into the net.
Rayo were poised to level the scores in the 35th when Barcelona defender Adriano fouled midfielder Roberto Trashorras in the area, but Valdes stood firm and had little trouble parrying Trashorras' spot-kick.
Pedro scored his second goal when he raced in to stab Fabregas' cross home after the former Arsenal midfielder forced Rayo into losing the ball deep in their own half.
Barcelona's Neymar provided a constant danger throughout the match and came close to his first goal in league play with a shot off the post in the 66th.
Neymar started and extended a flowing move by squaring for Pedro to tap in his third goal before Fabregas claimed the fourth.
Atletico Madrid remain second behind Barcelona on goal difference after they kept their 100% record intact with a 2-0 victory over Real Valladolid.
Atletico remain undefeated in all competitions this season but were forced to wait until the second-half before securing their fifth straight domestic win.
The visitors took the lead through Raul Garcia in the 56th minute before Diego Costa scored the second in the 72nd minute, with young midfielder Koke providing both assists.
Also Saturday, Real Sociedad's scoring drought reached three games when Malaga held the Basque club to 0-0 at home.
Sociedad, which lost their Champions League group opener Tuesday, increased their winless run in the domestic competition to four rounds.
Levante rallied to a 2-2 draw at 10-man Almeria. The hosts went ahead through a penalty from Verza in the 45th minute with Suso doubling the advantage early in the second half.
Christian Fernandez was sent off for the hosts shortly after the goal and Nabil El Zhar put Levante back in contention with a penalty, before Pape Diop completed Joaquin Caparros's side's comeback.
The promoted Almeria remained winless through five rounds after squandering a second-half lead for the fourth time this season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.