United bag latest bauble

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The Independent Football

Manchester United have been voted World Team of the Year by the readers of World Soccer magazine. The latest accolade follows the treble-winners' triumphs in winning the European Cup, the Premiership and the FA Cup, with their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, picking up the publication's World Manager of the Year award.

Manchester United have been voted World Team of the Year by the readers of World Soccer magazine. The latest accolade follows the treble-winners' triumphs in winning the European Cup, the Premiership and the FA Cup, with their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, picking up the publication's World Manager of the Year award.

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.

Roma, Leeds' opponents in the Uefa Cup fourth round, have been fined £9,000 after fans brandished celtic crosses. The Italian football federation's disciplinary commission considers the celtic cross to be a symbol of racism and an incitement to violence.

Bayern Munich prepared for the German league's mid-winter break in style with a 2-0 win at Werder Bremen in their final league match of the year on Friday. It means that the beaten European Cup finalists will lead the first division championship at its half-way point.

The Bavarians, who lost on penalties to the same opponents in the German Cup final last season, scored twice in the last 20 minutes. "Since the start of the season we have impressed more by our discipline and our fighting spirit than by our game but that is a sign that our morale is good," said the Bayern coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld.

This time last year Bayern had an eight-point lead but the captain, Stefan Effenberg, pointed out that they had been missing several key players lately. "I'm convinced we will play more attractive football once a few creative players are back," he said.

The Brazilian striker Elber and French defender Bixente Lizarazu, who have been sidelined by long-term injuries, should both return when the Bundesliga resumes on 4 February. Not only are Bayern ideally placed to retain their German title, they are also still in contention in the Champions' League and are widely favoured to beat second division FSV Mainz in the German Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.

An era will end for Bayern in March when the veteran libero Lothar Matthäus moves to the US Major League club New York-New Jersey MetroStars. The 38-year-old, who has marshalled Bayern's defence again this year, turned down an offer to stay to the end of the season.

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