Rivaldo, Barcelona's Brazilian international forward, was voted World Player of the Year. He finished the overwhelming winner of the poll, collecting 42.27 per cent of the votes. David Beckham was second with 26.55 per cent followed by the Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko of Milan with 9.02 per cent. None of the players who finished in the top three last year - the winner Zinedine Zidane, Michael Owen or Ronaldo - managed to get into the top 10 this year.
Rivaldo is expected to be named European Player of the Year ahead of Beckham in the poll organised by France Football magazine on Tuesday.
Bayern Munich, the team beaten by United in dramatic fashion in last season's European Cup final, won 2-0 at Werder Bremen on Friday to ensure they will be on top of the German Bundesliga during the winter break, which starts after this weekend's round of fixtures.
Carsten Jancker and Paulo Sergio scored twice in the last 20 minutes to give Bayern maximum points at Bremen. In yesterday's Bundesliga action two goals within two minutes by a substitute, Thomas Brdaric, helped Bayer Leverkusen beat Unterhaching 2-1 and stay two points adrift of Bayern. The former Leeds United striker Tony Yeboah scored twice as third-placed thrashed Duisburg 6-1. The Bundesliga resumes on 4 February.
Monaco beat bottom-placed Montpellier 1-0 last night to end the year five points clear at the top of the French league ahead of their month- long winter break. The Italian striker Marco Simone struck in the 32nd minute after a free-kick by Argentina's Marcello Gallardo.
Second-placed Lyon beat Metz 2-0, with the Brazilian Sonny Anderson scoring his 14th goal of the season. Marseilles sank into further trouble as they lost 2-1 at home to Lens, for whom Franck Queudrue scored an injury time- winner.
Marseilles fans, whose side are 16 points off the pace and who had staged a silent protest throughout the match after a run of poor results, invaded the pitch after Queudrue's goal and riot police had to intervene.
In Italy's Serie A there was an upset for Internazionale last night when they lost 2-1 at Bari. The Nigerian striker Michael Enninaya gave Bari a seventh-minute lead but Christian Vieri equalised in the 12th minute. Antonio Cassano grabbed an 88th-minute winner for the home side. Verona beat Venezia 1-0 in yesterday's other top-flight game in Italy.