LONDON (AP) — Gareth Bale took first place in The Associated Press global football poll on Tuesday after scoring his first hat trick for Real Madrid.
The Spanish team, which beat Valladolid 4-0, was second in the team vote, seven points behind English Premier League leader Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey scored twice in Arsenal's 3-0 win over Cardiff and was second in the player vote, 49 points behind his fellow countryman Bale.
"Wales' two poster-boys, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, both shone on yet another scintillating weekend of football," Sam Tighe of Bleacher Report in the United States said. "The former grabbed his first hat trick in Real Madrid colors and added a beauty of an assist, while the latter experienced a rather sweet homecoming by notching twice at former club Cardiff City."
Bale's form particularly impressed this week's AP panel of 20 global football writers as Madrid was without Cristiano Ronaldo, who has injured his left hamstring. Arjen Robben and Bayern Munich both polled third in their respective rankings. Munich beat Eintracht 2-0 to remain at the top of the Bundesliga, with Robben scoring both goals.
Munich has yet to lose in the league this season, winning 12 and drawing two of its 14 games and is four points clear of Bayer Leverkusen in second. Pep Guardiola's side also beat CSKA Moscow 3-1 away as it continued its defense of the Champions League title.
"It's almost as if form doesn't matter. Bayern Munich will win," Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said. "There may be teams that are prettier, but there are no teams that are more effective and more dependable. All they do is win."
For producing the surprise result of the weekend, Athletic Bilbao was only fourth after beating Barcelona 1-0 at home. Iker Muniain scored in the 70th minute at San Mames Stadium, leaving Barcelona defeated for the first time in La Liga this season. Muniain was ninth in the player poll.
"Who wins at the new San Mames? Even Barcelona did not beat Athletic Bilbao there," Leonardo Bertozzi of ESPN Brazil said. "Muniain scored the winning goal for 1-0, which broke the Catalan's unbeaten record in the league."
It was the second defeat of the week for Barcelona, which also lost 2-1 to Ajax in the Champions League midweek. Ajax went on to beat ADO 4-0 at home in the Dutch league and was sixth in the club vote.
In the player vote, Wayne Rooney was fourth after scoring both goals as Manchester United twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Tottenham. Rooney also assisted in four of United's five goals as it thrashed Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 away in the Champions League to secure its place in the knockout stage.
"The England man is showing his very best form," Julian Bennetts of Hayters news agency in England said. "Roy Hodgson must hope it stays that way until the World Cup." Rooney headed off Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored twice in his side's impressive 4-0 win over Lyon. PSG was eighth in the club vote.
AP Global Football 10 rankings, week ending Dec. 3
1. Gareth Bale, 163 points.
2. Aaron Ramsey, 114.
3. Arjen Robben, 105.
4. Wayne Rooney, 86.
5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 62.
6. Arturo Vidal, 41.
7. Samir Nasri, 35.
8. Fernando Llorente, 27.
9. Iker Muniain, 24.
10. Diego Costa, 21.
1. Arsenal, 125.
2. Real Madrid, 118.
3. Bayern Munich, 112.
4. Athletic Bilbao, 85.
5. Borussia Dortmund, 79.
6. Ajax, 74.
7. Juventus, 66.
8. Paris Saint-Germain, 59.
9. Manchester City, 50.
10. Manchester United, 40
(tie) Atletico Madrid, 40