Cristiano Ronaldo closes in on Lionel Messi after win

PORTUGAL captain and Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo edged one closer to Barcelona rival Lionel Messi by easily winning his third Ballon d'Or as the world's best player of 2014.

Ronaldo (pictured), who polled 37.66% of the vote, also won last year to end Messi's run of four consecutive victories in the battle for the game's most prestigious individual award.

Not everyone among the panel of 181 national team coaches, 182 national captains and 181 media representatives who voted felt Ronaldo and Messi were the two standout options.

Messi, winner of the Golden Boot as the best player at the World Cup in Brazil, came in second with 15.76%, just ahead of Bayern Munich and German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on 15.72%.

England manager Roy Hodgson gave an insight into his team selection thinking by voting for Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano - who failed to make the team of the year - ahead of German pair Philipp Lahm and Neuer.

That prompted an incredulous response from former England star Gary Lineker who tweeted: "Ronaldo and Messi are the best players on the planet, how could they both possibly not be in your top three?"

Coach of the year was Germany's World Cup-winning boss Joachim Low, while the Puskas Award for best goal went to Colombia's James Rodríguez for his freakish volley at the World Cup.

Team of the Year: GK: Manuel Neuer; Defenders: Thiago Silva, Sergio Ramos, David Luiz, Phillip Lahm; Midfielders: Toni Kroos, Angel Di Maria, Andres Iniesta, Forwards: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Arjen Robben.