Barcelona cruise to victory

Pedro Rodriguez scores a hat-trick as Spanish giants maintain their perfect start to the Primera Division season.

    Barcelona cruise to victory
    Spanish international Rodriguez sealed his hat-trick 13 minutes from time [AFP]

    Pedro Rodriguez scored three goals and Victor Valdes saved another penalty in Barcelona's 4-0 win at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, keeping the defending Spanish league champions perfect through five rounds.

    Pedro scored from a pass by Lionel Messi in the 33rd minute and added two more goals in the 47th and 72nd after Valdes saved his second penalty in four days following his stop in Wednesday's 4-0 over Ajax in the Champions League.

    The Spain forward 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 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.

    Brutal pace

    Results & fixtures

    Friday 20 September

    Osasuna 2-1 Elche

    Saturday 21 September

    Real Sociedad 0-0 Malaga
    Almeria 2-2 Levante
    Rayo Vallecano 0-4 Barca
    Valladolid v Atl Madrid

    Sunday 22 September

    Real Betis v Granada
    Celta de Vigo v Villarreal
    Real Madrid v Getafe
    Valencia v Sevilla

    Monday 23 September

    Espanyol v Athletic Bilbao

    Encouraged by their raucous fans, Rayo set a brutal pace from the start, and Valdes was called into action in the third minute to turn back Alberto Perea's header.

    The electric atmosphere at Vallecas Stadium almost cost Barcelona right back Martin Montoya an own goal in the 21st when he misplaced a back pass that Valdes was relieved to watch slip just outside his post.

    But Barcelona matched Rayo's intense pressure and 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.

    It was then Valdes' turn to shine once again this season, his last with the Catalan club which he seems determined to make his best.

    Rayo were poised to level the score 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 constant danger throughout the match and came close to his first goal in league play with a shot off the post in the 66th. The Brazil striker has already made his mark by giving defences fits and leads the league in fouls received.

    As Rayo's players tired while their fans continued to urge them forward, Neymar started and extended a flowing move by squaring for Pedro to tap in his third goal before Fabregas took the fourth.

    Scoring drought

    Real Sociedad's scoring drought reached three games when Malaga held the Basque club to 0-0 at home, while Levante rallied to 2-2 at 10-man Almeria.

    Sociedad, who lost their Champions League group opener on Tuesday, increased their winless run in the domestic competition to four rounds.

    Despite selling several players this summer, first-year coach Bernd Schuster has Malaga on a three-game unbeaten streak.

    The promoted Almeria remained winless through five rounds after squandering a second-half lead for the fourth time this season.

    Osasuna beat Elche 2-1 on Friday for their first win of the season.

    SOURCE: AP


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