Cesc Fabregas says that Barcelona silenced their critics by coming back from 2-0 down to win 5-2 at Getafe in La Liga on Sunday afternoon.
Barca went into the game amid a number of off-field issues, and with Lionel Messi, Neymar, Xavi Hernandez and Victor Valdes all missing -- and Getafe took advantage of some poor defending to go two up inside the first 15 minutes.
But Barca kept their heads and were in front before halftime via a superb nine minute hat trick from Pedro Rodriguez, with Fabregas himself scoring twice in the second period to seal an emphatic turnaround and keep the Blaugrana outfit top of the Primera Division over the winter break on goal difference.
The former Arsenal player admitted to Canal Plus after the game that his side had been "a terrible mess" in the opening stages.
“We started well, but then we had 20 minutes when we were a terrible mess, it was very, very bad,” Fabregas said. “We did not play well, kept losing the ball and they were quick on the counter. But after that we played well, we were patient and we put more intensity into the game. Once we scored the first goal we grew into it and the game went perfectly.”
Fabregas quickly added that such dips in games could happen to any team, but Barca had shown their resolve by roaring back to win despite the absent players.
“It happens to everyone,” he said. “We need to try and make sure this kind of thing happens as rarely as possible. But it happened to [Real] Madrid in Pamplona, it happens to Arsenal, to [Manchester] City, [Manchester] United... but then you must see how to react. And we reacted really well.
"The negative part was the first 20 minutes, but the positive part is that we were able to shut a lot of mouths -- and show that the team, even missing important players like Messi, Neymar and Xavi, and going 2-0 down, was able to get out if, playing very well. We showed character, hunger and ambition.”
Fabregas, who took his own tally for the season so far to ten goals and 11 assists in all competitions this season, said he had begun the game badly, but the team then showed their quality when it mattered.
“That is 10 or 11 assists in this Liga this season,” he said. “My own first 20 minutes were lamentable, like the rest of the team. From then we were able to get into the game, and show our quality with the final ball.”
Pedro was himself more careful with his words when he spoke on Canal Plus afterwards.
“I am very happy -- I feel confident, I am scoring goals and helping the team,” Pedro said. “It was important as we started the game badly and we have come back. We were not good in the first minutes, but our attitude was good and we came out on top. We wanted to end the year well.”
Head coach Gerardo Martino, who tends to favour Alexis Sanchez up front alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi in bigger games, told his postmatch news conference that it was not a case of the Spanish international winger having to prove anything to anyone.
“I do not need Pedro to score three goals a game, because he is always scoring,” Martino said. “Pedro played a fantastic match and the team did as well. He never gives up. He does well whether he starts, or if he comes on in the second half. Any coach would yield in front of a player like that. He knows there is a tough battle for his position.”