With three goals in Manchester United FC's 5-0 Saturday afternoon demolition of Birmingham City FC, Dimitar Berbatov made a dramatic entry into the top three in the race to win the ESM Golden Shoe, but his one-time Old Trafford team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo still rules the roost.
Berbatov's 17-goal haul is all the more remarkable given that he has only scored in eight games this season; his figures include two goals against Sunderland AFC, hat-tricks against Liverpool FC and Birmingham as well as a celebrated five-goal salvo in a 7-1 victory against Blackburn Rovers FC. He is now the first United striker since Ruud van Nistelrooy to have scored three trebles in one season.
"His overall play was brilliant," said team-mate Ryan Giggs of Saturday's starring appearance. "His goals were brilliant as well." Assistant manager Mike Phelan added: "He's being consistent now in his performances as well – you saw Berba tackling back as well and winning ball. You provide the service and he'll score the goals."
Cristiano Ronaldo has not added to his league tally since a hat-trick against high-flying Villarreal CF on 9 January; his two subsequent Copa del Rey strikes do not count towards his Golden Shoe total. Second-ranked Lionel Messi has hit four cup goals in the two weeks since UEFA.com's last Golden Shoe round-up, but has found the target only once in the Liga in that time.
Mario Gomez, meanwhile, is a new name in the top ten, his hat-trick in FC Bayern München's 5-1 weekend win against 1. FC Kaiserslautern placing him among a clutch of players on 30 points, with Kenny Miller – newly-moved from Rangers FC to Bursaspor – looking increasingly vulnerable in fourth place.
ESM Golden Shoe standings: 23 January 2011
1 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF, ESP) 22 goals x 2 = 44
2 Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona, ESP) 19 x 2 = 38
3 Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United FC, ENG) 17 x 2 = 34
4 Kenny Miller (Rangers FC/Bursaspor, SCO/TUR) 21 x 1.5 = 31.5
5 Papiss Demba Cissé (SC Freiburg, GER) 15 x 2 = 30
5 Mario Gomez (FC Bayern München, GER) 15 x 2 = 30
5 Antonio Di Natale (Udinese Calcio, ITA) 15 x 2 = 30
5 Moussa Sow (LOSC Lille Métropole, FRA) 15 x 2 = 30
9 *Welliton (FC Spartak Moskva, RUS) 19 x 1.5 = 28.5
10 Edinson Cavani (SSC Napoli, ITA) 14 x 2 = 28
10 Theofanis Gekas (Eintracht Frankfurt, GER) 14 x 2 = 28
10 Carlos Tévez (Manchester City FC, ENG) 14 x 2 = 28
10 David Villa (FC Barcelona, ESP) 14 x 2 = 28
* The Russian season is over
Only the leading five countries (Spain, Italy, Germany, France and England) on the UEFA Ranking have two as their multiplier. This is to emphasise the difference in (international) performance level between the clubs from those countries and those from the other nations.
A player cannot first play in a summer league (eg Norway) and then in a winter league (eg Spain) and combine the points total for each season.
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