Leaders strike crucial blows
© FIFA.com

It was a positive week for the top teams in some of the world’s elite competitions as many nations wind down their respective local competitions ahead of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012. FIFA.com this week visits Japan, Sweden, Norway and USA where those at the summit prospered.

Japan: Leonessa strike crucial blow
INAC Kobe Leonessa took a giant stride towards retaining their league title with 1-0 win over NTV Beleza, who last year pushed the eventual champions until the final weeks of the season. Prolific Japan striker Nahomi Kawasumi bagged the decisive goal just past the hour mark leaving the champions five points clear at the halfway mark of the campaign. The season will now take a mid-season break and resume following the conclusion of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Japan 2012. Okayama Belle Yunogo continued their impressive form to stay third with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against AS Elfen Sayama, thanks to an early goal from defender Yumiko Tsuhako. The unheralded Okayama remains the only side to take points off Leonessa, holding the frontrunners to a scoreless draw last month.
Top three: INAC Leonessa Kobe (25 points), NTV Beleza (20), Okayama Belle Yunogo (19)

Sweden: Narrow wins amid an avalanche
The top three in Sweden all won to maintain their respective title claims, however despite each collecting three points, they were forced to work hard before securing one-goal victories. Tyreso maintained their slim hold on top spot with their 1-0 victory at Kopparbergs/Gothenburg, with the result keeping Marta & Co narrowly clear of LDB Malmo and Vittsjo on goal difference. Malmo edged Orebro by the odd goal in seven with Ramona Bachmann and Elin Rubensson both bagging doubles for the champions, including an injury-time winner from the former. Vittsjo also had to work hard to stave off the challenge of Jitex before coming away with a 2-1 win. It was a far easier task for 2009 champions Linkopings who trounced Djurgarden 11-0 with prolific Dutch forward Manon Melis on target four times.
Top three: Tyreso FF, LDB Malmo, Vittsjo (all 21 points)

Norway: Frontrunners push on
The top four won in Norway leaving the league table stretched after ten rounds. Leaders Stabaek were too good for Kattem and were 5-1 victors with five different goalscorers getting on the scoresheet. LSK Kvinner’s top scorer, Isabell Herlovsen, hit a second-half hat-trick to end stout resistance from Kolbotn and stay within a point of the summit. Arna-Bjornar remains in third with a five-point cushion ahead of Roa, thanks to a 2-0 win on the road at Klepp.
Top three: Stabaek (26 points), LSK Kvinner (25), Arna-Bjornar (23)

USA: Red Stars flying
Chicago Red Stars are on the charge in the WPSL Elite with a perfect record after five rounds. ASA Chesapeake Charge were the latest to fall victim to the former WPS club losing 5-0 in Chicago on Friday with Lauren Fowlkes hitting a treble. Boston Breakers reclaimed sole control of top spot two days later with a combative 1-0 win against Philadelphia Fever. Boston, who lost their first game of the season a week earlier in Chicago, returned to winning ways thanks to a lone strike from Australia international Kyah Simon just before the interval.
Top three: Boston Breakers (18 points), Chicago Red Stars (15), New York Fury (12)