LONDON (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo surged to the top of the AP's latest global soccer rankings on Tuesday, thanks to decisive goals for Real Madrid in La Liga and the Champions League.
Ronaldo was awarded 153 points in The Associated Press survey of 16 global soccer journalists, comfortably beating Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, who earned 82 points, just six ahead of fellow Argentine Carlos Tevez of Manchester City.
"Cristiano Ronaldo's three goals in two games, one of them against Man United, earn him top honors," said panelist Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "That beats Carlos Tevez's four goals in two games, since he got three of them against Barnsley, which isn't quite the same as scoring against Man U. or even Celta Vigo."
Real Madrid stayed in first place in the team rankings after knocking Manchester United out of the Champions League and climbing into second place in La Liga with a 2-1 victory over Celta Vigo, Ronaldo scoring both Madrid goals.
Paolo Condo of Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport said scoring at Old Trafford gave Ronaldo the edge.
"It's easy to say Real Madrid and Ronaldo were the best of the week, but if you win at Old Trafford (and then in La Liga) it's obvious," Condo said.
Real earned 151 points out of a possible 160, far ahead of Serie A leader Juventus, which beat Catania at the weekend to stay nine points clear at the top of the league.
The threat of elimination from the Champions League after a 2-0 defeat at AC Milan put the Spanish league leaders Barcelona to fourth position, just ahead of Liverpool and PSG.
Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich stayed third in the rankings after it moved 20 points ahead in the standings with a narrow 3-2 victory over Duesseldorf. Bayern came from 2-1 down to win with an 86th minute goal.
Bundesliga.com writer James Thorogood said Bayern's class shone through despite pressure from Duesseldorf.
"The Bavarians are in unstoppable form and now sit 20 points clear at the top of the table with the potential to wrap up their 22nd Bundesliga title in as little as three weeks' time," he said.
Several panelists said Tevez seemed unaffected by his arrest last week on suspicion of driving while disqualified. He was banned from driving in January because he didn't respond to letters from police about speeding.
"If the Argentine's week was tumultuous off the field ... on the field Tevez shone with a hat-trick in the 5-0 rout of Barnsley, sending City to the semifinals of the FA Cup," said Leonardo Bertozzi of ESPN Brazil.
Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic's two goals gave his team a 2-1 victory over AS Nancy-Lorraine and a four-point gap at the top of Ligue 1, while Liverpool's Luis Suarez scored his ninth Premier League goal of 2013 for Liverpool in the 3-2 victory over Tottenham. Last week's leader, Gareth Bale of Tottenham, dropped to sixth.
AP Global Soccer Rankings for week ending March 10.
Based on 16 voters, using 10 points for top to 1 point for bottom place.
(Previous rankings in parentheses)
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, (2), 153 points.
2. Lionel Messi, 82.
3. Carlos Tevez, 76.
(tied) Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 76.
5. Luis Suarez, (4), 62.
6. Gareth Bale, (1), 43.
7. Amauri, 33.
8. Diego Lopez, 25.
9. Luka Modric, 23.
10. Mario Gotze, 22.
(tied) Victor Ibarbo, 22
(tied) Jan Vertonghen 22
1. Real Madrid, (1), 151 points.
2. Juventus, (7) 103.
3. Bayern Munich, (3), 83.
4. Barcelona, 66.
5. Liverpool, (6), 62.
6. Paris Saint-Germain, 53.
7. Borussia Dortmund, (8), 44.
8. Manchester City, 39.
9. Real Sociedad, 35.
10. AC Milan, (5), 35.