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AC Milan returns to No. 1 as Real Madrid slides
18.12 || Seamus

LONDON ( -- Real Madrid's hold on No. 1 after winning the World Club Cup lasted just a week, with AC Milan having returned on Monday as the top-ranked club in the CNN/World Soccer Top 10.

Milan stayed firmly on course for a spot in the knockout stage of the Champions League with a 1-0 win at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. The Serie A leader, which had started the second phase with a 1-0 home victory over Madrid, secured the lead in Group C courtesy of a Filippo Inzaghi strike early in the second half.

On Sunday, Milan enjoyed a 2-1 win at bottom club Como with goals from Massimo Ambrosini and Andriy Shevchenko to keep a one-point advantage in the Italian standings.

Continuing its slow but steady climb two more spots to No. 2 was a rejuvenated Manchester United. Ruud van Nistelrooy struck twice as Man Utd stamped its authority on Champions League Group D with an emphatic 2-0 victory over Spain's Deportivo Coruna at Old Trafford on Wednesday. In the Premier League on Saturday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Juan Sebastian Veron scored early to lead United to a 3-0 victory over West Ham.

Two first-half goals from Luigi Di Biagio helped Inter Milan -- steady at No 3 -- beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 in their Champions League Group A match on Tuesday, but the Italians were made to sweat in the final stages. On Sunday, Inter remained two points back in Serie A after beating Atalanta 1-0 at home thanks to a fine strike from Sierra Leone striker Mohamed Kallon.

An inspired second-half comeback from Lokomotiv Moscow earned a surprise 2-2 draw against title holder Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the Champions League on Wednesday, leaving the Spanish giants bottom of Group C and down to No. 4 in the Top 10. On Sunday, Madrid recovered from a two-goal deficit to beat bottom-place Recreativo de Huelva 4-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

Backup goalkeeper Andres Palop defied Arsenal with four top-quality saves as Spanish titlist Valencia gained a 0-0 tie at Highbury in the Champions League on Tuesday, earning a move up one spot to No. 5. In Saturday's domestic action, Norwegian substitute John Carew netted two second-half goals as injury-hit Valencia beat Villarreal 2-0.

Swapping places with Valencia is Spanish league leader Real Sociedad, which overcame Mallorca 2-1 to maintain its unbeaten record this season.

Santos jumps three ranks to No. 7 after winning the Brazilian championship on Sunday, beating Corinthians 3-2 in the second leg of the final to win 5-2 on aggregate and claim its first domestic title since 1984.

Dropping from sixth to eighth is Arsenal, which followed up its Champions League draw by retaining a one-point lead in the Premier League with a fortunate 1-1 draw against London rival Tottenham on Sunday.

Joining the list at No. 9 is Lazio, which defeated Juventus on Sunday after eliminating Sturm Graz on Thursday in the UEFA Cup third round.

Rounding out the list is newcomer FC Porto, the Portuguese premier league leader that eliminated Lens from the UEFA Cup 3-1 on aggregate despite a 1-0 loss on Thursday.

Dropping out of the Top 10 were Ajax and Juventus.

Others receiving votes were Independiente (Argentina), Ajax (Netherlands), Besiktas (Turkey) and Juventus (Italy).

The CNN/World Soccer Top 10 is a unique ranking of football clubs determined each Monday through voting by correspondents from CNN Sports and World Soccer magazine.

Rankings for Dec. 16
Rk. Team Country Pts.
1 (2) AC Milan Italy 120
2 (4) Manchester United England 83
3 (3) Inter Milan Italy 75
4 (1) Real Madrid Spain 72
5 (6) Valencia Spain 62
6 (5) Real Sociedad Spain 56
7 (10) Santos Brazil 43
8 (6) Arsenal England 38
9 (-) Lazio Italy 27
10 (-) Porto Portugal 23
Dropped out: Ajax, Juventus.
Others receiving votes: Independiente, Ajax, Besiktas, Juventus.

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