LONDON (AP) — Robin van Persie held off last year's winner Lionel Messi to earn player of the week honors in the first round of The Associated Press global football poll.
Both players scored twice, but Van Persie's acrobatic volley and long-range goal in Manchester United's 4-1 win over Swansea in the Premier League gave the Dutchman the edge over Messi by five points.
"Van Persie's goals were outstanding and broke open a tight game that wasn't always going Man United's way in the early going," said panelist Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post. "The only reason I put him ahead of Messi was that he did it against better competition."
But Messi's Barcelona finished at the top of the team voting with 221 of an available 230 points after its 7-0 thrashing of Levante in the Spanish League.
"Six of their seven goals came in a scintillating first half display," said Paris-based football writer Mark Rodden. "The scary thing for the rest of La Liga is that new Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino thinks they can still improve."
United is in second position, ahead of Juventus in third and English side Chelsea, who is fourth.
Big-spending French club Monaco is in fifth and its forward Emmanuel Riviere, who scored his first career hat trick in the 4-1 win over Montpellier in the French league, finished third in the player rankings.
Riviere came 46 points above Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas in fourth. The 26-year-old Fabregas was instrumental in his team's weekend triumph after an offseason where English champion United tried to sign the Spain midfielder.
"Cesc Fabregas swept every rumor and discussion about his future away with a brilliant opening effort conducting FC Barcelona like a maestro to an impressive win," said Soren Mikael Hansen, sports editor of Politiken in Denmark.