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Chelsea tops AP poll after winning Euro title


May 21. 2013 10:39AM
Associated Press



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(AP) Chelsea surged to the top of the weekly Associated Press global soccer poll after winning the Europa League and qualifying for the Champions League for the 11th straight season.


There was a Chelsea player at the top of the player rankings, with Fernando Torres sharing first place with Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery. The Spanish striker belatedly regained his goal-scoring form to impress the 14 voters on the panel.


"Great week for Torres and 'Spanish' Chelsea in the last days with (Rafa) Bentez," said Orefeo Suarez, from Spain's El Mundo. "The Spanish coach said Torres is coming back with him to the level he had in Liverpool."


Torres scored the opening goal in the 2-1 victory over Benfica in the Europa League final before firing home the winner against Everton on the final day of the Premier League season, securing the team third place in the standings. He had previously netted just once in his previous eight matches.


"He had to be under a fair amount of pressure considering his scoring troubles," said Tom Timmermann, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Chelsea edged Bayern into second place but the German side could be back on top spot next week if it wins the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.


Ribery looks in prime form for that match, after scoring twice in a wild 4-3 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach in which Bayern came back from conceding three times in the opening 10 minutes.


"If there was any doubt that Franck Ribery has been Bayern's most important player this season, the Frenchman put them to rest on the final day of the Bundesliga season scoring twice and laying on a further two assists in another world-class performance," said James Thorogood, of Bundesliga.com.


Atletico Madrid was rewarded for its victory over city rival Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey, climbing to third in the team poll and having two players goalkeeper Thibault Courtois (fourth) and striker Radamel Falcao (ninth) in the top 10 of the player rankings.


"What a Friday night at the Bernabeu for Atletico Madrid," said Julian Bennetts, from Hayters news agency in England. "They had not beaten their old rivals Real Madrid in 14 years until their incredible victory in the Copa del Rey, and they celebrated with understandable gusto."


To extend the week's Chelsea theme, Courtois is on loan to Atletico from the London club, which is widely reported to be one of the many teams chasing the signature of Radamel Falcao this summer. Romelu Lukaku, who was third in the player poll after getting a second-half hat trick for West Bromwich Albion in a 5-5 draw with Manchester United, is also a Chelsea player.


Arsenal placed fourth thanks to wins over Wigan and Newcastle that capped an end-of-season recovery and clinched the fourth and final Champions League berth in the Premier League. By sealing the Portuguese title, FC Porto was fifth and Barcelona sixth after beating Valladolid 2-1 in the Spanish league.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic stole some of the spotlight from David Beckham in the midfielder's final home match from Paris Saint-Germain, scoring a double in a 3-1 win over Brest in the French league for eighth place in the player list.


His 29 points put him just behind AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, whose converted penalty helped AC Milan into next season's Champions League, but ahead of Falcao and Robin van Persie (10th).


Associated Press


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