Soccer

Hazard, Liverpool top AP weekly football poll

LONDON (AP) — Liverpool's 5-1 mauling of Arsenal helped it return to the top of The Associated Press weekly football poll on Tuesday, while Eden Hazard's hat trick for new English leader Chelsea earned him the top player vote.

For toppling the Premier League front-runner at Anfield, Liverpool was voted team of the week for the second time this season. Paolo Condo of Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy described the performance as "supernatural," while Ubiratan Leal of Brazil's trivela.com praised the style of the win, as Liverpool scored four times in the opening 20 minutes.

"The way the Reds destroyed Arsenal showed how (Brendan) Rodgers' team is for real, and he has created a style of play that makes us imagine how far they could go in a couple of seasons," Leal said. Hazard, who led Chelsea to a 3-0 win over Newcastle, received an impressive 188 votes out of a possible 190. His side polled second, 52 points behind Liverpool.

"Eden Hazard is so elusive on the pitch that he often escapes the sort of attention given to the likes of Sergio Aguero and Luis Suarez," Chris Tait of The Herald in Scotland said. "The Belgian's hat trick for Chelsea is a good reminder that he is one of the best talents in Europe."

Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel entered the poll for the first time this season in third and fifth respectively, after they scored two goals each for Liverpool. A third Liverpool player, Philippe Coutinho, was seventh.

Lionel Messi, scorer of two in Barcelona's 4-1 triumph at Sevilla in the Spanish league, polled second as he's rounded quickly into form after a hamstring injury ruled him out for two months. "Messi cannot yet be 100 percent, but still far from his best is still decisive," Leonardo Bertozzi of ESPN Brazil said.

The victory ranked Barcelona third in the team vote, two points behind Chelsea. Real Madrid was fourth after beating Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey and Villarreal in the Spanish league. Atletico, Barcelona and Real are tied at the top of the league.

Borussia Dortmund re-entered the poll in fifth after thrashing Werder Bremen 5-1 away. Robert Lewandowski, who scored twice, was fourth in the player vote. Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich was sixth after beating Nuremburg 2-0 to extend its spectacular unbeaten league run to 46 games.

Napoli was the highest-ranked team from Serie A at seventh after a 3-1 win against AC Milan, and its Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain was sixth after scoring twice.

AP Global Football 10 rankings, week ending Feb. 12:

Players:

1. Eden Hazard, 188 points.

2. Lionel Messi, 123.

3. Raheem Sterling, 101.

4. Robert Lewandowski, 87.

5. Martin Skrtel, 72.

6. Gonzalo Higuain, 57.

7. Philippe Coutinho, 45.

8. Adrian Ramos, 42.

9. Karim Benzema, 37.

10. Jese, 28.

Teams:

1. Liverpool, 177.

2. Chelsea, 125.

3. Barcelona, 123.

4. Real Madrid, 109.

5. Borussia Dortmund, 89.

6. Bayern Munich, 85.

7. Napoli, 62.

8. Almeria, 61.

9. Bayer Leverkusen, 27.

10. Verona, 21.

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