Messi jumps back to top AP football rankings
Messi jumps back to top AP football rankings
In The Associated Press’ weekly rankings, Messi finished far ahead of his closest rival, Mexican striker Javier Hernandez, who was in goal-scoring form for Manchester United over the past week. Messi is just 10 goals away from breaking the all-time calendar-year record set by Germany’s Gerd Muller in 1972.
“Messi’s got to take top spot after yet another milestone,” said panelist James Porteous of The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. “Passing Pele’s record of 75 goals in a calendar year with his brace against Mallorca. Ten goals in 10 games required to overtake Gerd Muller’s mark of 85 and you’d have to fancy him to achieve it.” Mike McGrath of Britain’s Wardles News Agency and The Sun newspaper, said: “If there was any argument about Lionel Messi being the best player in the world, beating Pele’s record puts that beyond any doubt. He is setting new standards of brilliance every week.” Each panelist in the AP poll gives 10 points for his player of the week, dropping to one point for his 10th choice. The same applies for global club teams. Panelists are football journalists from around the world.
Juventus striker Fabio Quagliarella thrust his way into third place by scoring four goals in the past two games.
Messi received 139 points, Hernandez 98 and Quagliarella 67.
Goalkeeper Fraser Forster, hero of Celtic’s stunning Champions league victory over Barcelona, was recognized by the panelists who voted him into fourth position with 61 points. Strikers Edinson Cavani (5th), Franck Ribery (6th), Cristiano Ronaldo (7th) and Marouanne Fellaini (8th) all benefited from scoring.
“Cavani has replaced Radamel Falcao as the hottest striker in Europe,” Will Tidey of Bleacher Report in the US said. “The Uruguayan scored all four in Napoli’s Europa League win on Thursday, then added a goal and an assist in Serie A on Sunday.” Ronaldo proved he’s no softy, scoring for Real Madrid against Levante despite a gruesome eye injury hindering his vision.
Bayern was the team of the week with 128 points, jumping from third place. The 6-1 Champions League thrashing of Lille was clinical, and a 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend keeps it at the top of the Bundesliga.
Juventus bounced back from a loss to Inter Milan with 10 goals in two games to come second with 121 points. The Italian team won 4-0 in midweek against Denmark’s Nordsjaelland, and scored six at Pescara. Juve had finished fourth in the previous poll.
United was third, up one position, after successive Champions League victories, thanks mainly to Hernandez.
Celtic’s midweek victory over Barcelona was rewarded with a fourth place, the first time the Scottish team has appeared in the top 10.
Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said: “Where would Celtic have been in the Champions League without Forster? Not getting as much praise, that’s for sure.
“In a one-game, head-to-head matchup, I’d be inclined to go with Barcelona, but for the bodywork so far this season, it’s hard to look past what Bayern Munich has done, with 10 wins in 11 games and a 7-point edge in the Bundesliga.” “Beating the world champions,” wrote Paolo Condo of Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport, “Celtic fixed a new milestone in its beautiful history, and of course the brilliant night of the goalkeeper Forster was a big part of the victory.” Barcelona dropped from second to fourth after the defeat to Celtic, despite victory in the domestic league against Mallorca. Brazil’s newly crowned league champion Fluminense jumped into the top 10 in sixth place.
Brazilian sports writer Paulo Vinicius Coelho of Estado de S.Paulo, paid tribute to striker Fred.
“Top scorer in the Brazilian Championship, Fred was the top player in the match against Palmeiras, the match when Fluminense was crowned Brazilian champion.” Fred was 12th in the poll.
LeBron’s last-second shot gives Cavs 98-95 win in Game 5
- James' 3-pointer buzzer beater puts Cavaliers within one victory of advancing in the Eastern Conference playoffs
- James finished with 44 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists.
CLEVELAND: LeBron James hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, a crowning moment for another brilliant performance, to give Cleveland a 98-95 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night in Game 5, putting the Cavaliers within one victory of advancing in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Moments after blocking Victor Oladipo’s possible go-ahead driving layup, James caught the inbounds pass, took two dribbles and dropped the winner over Thaddeus Young.
As Cleveland’s sellout crowd exploded, James hugged rookie teammate Cedi Osman before jumping on the scorer’s table to celebrate another of those moments that will define his career.
James finished with 44 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and went 15 of 15 from the line.
Kyle Korver added 19 points and Cleveland’s much-maligned defense tightened just in time as the Cavaliers seized their first lead in the first-round series after being down 1-0 and 2-1.
Cleveland can close out Indiana with a win Friday night in Indianapolis.
Domantas Sabonis scored 22 points, and Young had 16 for the Pacers, who battled back to tie it 95-all on Sabonis’ 15-foot jumper with 33 seconds left. Indiana, which held Cleveland without a field goal for more than seven minutes during their fourth-quarter rally forced James into a turnover and had a chance to re-take the lead.
Oladipo, who shot just 2 of 15, drove the left side and was at the rim when James swooped in for a block on a play reminiscent of his Game 7 block on Andre Iguodala in the 2016 NBA Finals.
Oladipo’s shooting woes continued. He’s only 12 of 50 from the field in the last three games. He scored 32 in the Pacers’ Game 1 win, but the Cavs have been double-teaming him ever since.
The third quarter has been a major problem for Cleveland all season. The Cavs had tried everything to try and shake things up after halftime, even doing layup lines at the break in Game 4 like a high school squad.
Turns out, all it took was some defensive intensity.
Down by seven at half, the Cavs swarmed the Pacers in the third quarter, forcing five turnovers in the first six minutes and holding Indiana to one field goal over the first 6:52 while opening with a 19-3 run.
Cleveland outscored Indiana 32-17 in the third, when the Pacers shot just 5 for 16 (31 percent) and committed seven turnovers.
The Cavs were again without starting point guard George Hill, who missed his second straight game with back spasms.
James had enough to worry about with the Pacers that he didn’t want to discuss close friend Dwyane Wade’s future.
Miami’s star is mulling retirement after the Heat were eliminated Tuesday in Philadelphia. James spent four years playing in Miami with Wade, who began this season with the Cavs before being traded.
James said that following his last game against Wade he told him, “’If it’s like our last time going against each other, then it’s been everything and more.” James wants to wait for Wade to make his decision and will then “give a more in-depth analysis of his career if he decides to hang ‘em up.”
Pacers: Following Lance Stephenson’s aggressive, wrestling-like takedown of Jeff Green in the waning moments of Game 4, coach Nate McMillan said he reminded the fiery forward to be careful. “The officials are going to be watching that, Lance knows that and there are some times where I think they (the Cavs) are taking advantage.” ... Dropped to 2-12 in their last 14 games in Cleveland. ... James’ triple-double in Game 4 was the sixth against Indiana in the playoffs. James has done it to the Pacers three times.
Cavaliers: With his 21st 40-point game in the playoff, James tied the logo — Jerry West — for the second-most all-time. Michael Jordan scored at least 40 in 38 postseason games. .... Hill’s back has improved in the past few days, but he didn’t look close to playing while sitting stiffly in his locker-room chair before the game. ... Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown sat courtside.
Game 6 is Friday night at Indianapolis.