Barcelona found themselves 2-0 down inside 14 minutes at Getafe, but rallied for a 5-2 victory thanks to a hat-trick by Pedro.
With Neymar and Lionel Messi both unavailable, Pedro took his opportunity in the spotlight well.
The 26-year-old picked up his first goal in the 34th minute when he broke free and chipped off Getafe goalkeeper Miguel Moya’s fingertips to get Barcelona back within one.
Six minutes later he broke down the left flank and his teammates found the run. Pedro latched onto the through ball, cut back inside, and rifled across face to the far corner.
The third came just two minutes later as Jordi Alba’s cross banged off Valera’s legs and fell right to Pedro in the box, who strongly finished for his hat-trick.
Cesc Fabregas added two more in the second half and the La Liga leaders kept pace with Atletico Madrid, who beat Levante 3-2. Both teams are level on 46 points but Barcelona have a 2-goal advantage in differential.
Messi is still nursing a hamstring injury, and Neymar was suspended for yellow-card accumulation.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 35 and coming off major knee surgery, but that isn’t stopping suitors from lining up across Europe.
Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, says that MLS is not an option for the Swede over the next two seasons. From Sky Sports:
“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan. He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”
It would make sense for Ibrahimovic to stay around Manchester United, where he is admired by Jose Mourinho and coming off a season that showed he’s still capable of contributing at a high level.
But he remains beloved in Italy, and would be effective for most clubs in the Top 5 leagues should he return at even 75 percent of the Zlatan we’ve seen regularly.
Manchester United wants Ivan Perisic, and both the player and his current club are all about it.
Perisic, 28, is ready to leave Inter Milan, and the Serie A mainstays are happy to accept $46 million for his services according to Sky Sports.
[ MORE: No China for Costa ]
Primarily a left winger, Perisic moved to Inter from Wolfsburg at the start of the 2015-16 season. He scored 10 goals and added nine assists in Serie A play this season, and has kept up his production pace since moving from the Bundesliga to Italy.
United needs stars and depth for its Champions League campaign, and Perisic would buttress an attack with Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst others. He was a difference maker for Croatia at EURO 2016, and can do the same at Old Trafford.
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) Celtic completed a trophy treble in Scottish soccer and finished the domestic season undefeated after beating Aberdeen 2-1 in the Scottish Cup final thanks to an injury-time goal on Saturday.
Midfielder Tom Rogic scored from an acute angle in the second minute of stoppage time at Hampden Park to ensure Celtic added the cup to the Scottish Premiership and the Scottish League Cup.
[ MORE: No China for Costa ]
Brendan Rodgers became the third manager, after Jock Stein (1967, 1969) and Martin O’Neill (2001), to lead Celtic to a treble of domestic titles.
Celtic hasn’t lost any of its 47 games across in the league and both cups, and is the first team to go through the whole of a Scottish domestic season unbeaten.
Blues striker Diego Costa offered some insight into his future following Chelsea’s FA Cup Final loss to Arsenal on Saturday.
The combustible striker was subject to a head-turning bid from the Chinese Super League this winter, but is only looking at two European locations for his future.
Those are his current club, Chelsea, as well as former home at Atletico Madrid.
[ JPW: Poignant FA Cup Final reflects English mood ]
The 28-year-old Costa has kept his scoring pace level since arriving in the Premier League. He scored 64 goals in 134 matches for Atleti, and has notched 58 goals for Chelsea in 120 appearances.
Costa reportedly said, “No, no, no” when asked about China, as well as the following: