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Cavani’s hat trick topples Messi from AP rankings
LONDON (AP) - It took something very special to topple Lionel Messi from his position on top of the first AP Global Football rankings survey of 2013, and Edinson Cavani’s perfect hat trick for Napoli did it.
Left foot, right foot and header, three goals from the Uruguayan that pushed the Serie A team to a 4-1 victory over Roma and into third place in the league.
Messi, who slipped from the leading position he has held since the AP rankings were launched in October, ended up sixth after managing only one goal in Barcelona’s 4-0 victory over the weekend. The record-breaking Argentina forward did manage to pick up FIFA’s Ballon d’Or on Monday night.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo saved his team with two goals and was voted into second place by the 17 soccer journalists from around the world who give 10 points for their top players and teams, down to one point for 10th.
Ronaldo was awarded 122 points, 15 points behind Cavani’s 137.
Barcelona remains the clear leader of the team list with 152 points, 44 points ahead of Premier League leaders Manchester United. Napoli climbed into third in the AP rankings, as well as in Serie A, 10 points clear of Sampdoria. Four Italian teams are in the Top 10, although neither of the Milan teams nor Juventus made the grade.
Struggling Sampdoria and 19-year-old rising star Mauro Icardi were both fourth after the Argentine striker, who was born in the same city as Messi, scored both goals to beat league leader Juventus 2-1.
“Icardi’s two goals at Juventus were also exceptional,” Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said, “and it certainly justified him not being allowed to go home to play for Argentina’s under-20 team.”
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was eighth, despite widespread anger in England for what appeared to be a deliberate handball that helped the Uruguayan score the second and winning goal against non-league Mansfield in the FA Cup.
New Chelsea striker Demba Ba also broke into the top 10 for the first time after scoring two goals on his debut for the London team.
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