The weekend witnessed a welcome return to action in Germany, with Wolfsburg impressing immediately following a lengthy winter break. There were shocks in store for Australia’s top-two where the championship finale looms large, while it was a case of as you were for the leading teams in both Spain and Republic of Ireland
*Germany: Champs in the groove *
Reigning European and German champions Wolfsburg recommenced their Bundesliga campaign following the mid-winter break in seamless fashion. However, newly promoted Cloppenburg briefly provided a scare with their star recruit, Sweden forward Sofia Jakobsson, giving the visitors a surprise lead. It wasn’t until the hour mark that Wolfsburg took the lead through Martina Muller’s penalty with the 4-1 winning margin pushing* Die Wolfinnen* past Turbine Potsdam into second. In the other catch-up fixture a second-half winner from Jennifer Oster gave Duisburg a 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen and a modicum of breathing space above the relegation zone. The regular full round of fixtures recommence next weekend.
*Top three: Frankfurt (26 points), Wolfsburg (24), Turbine Potsdam (23) *
*Australia: And then there were two... *
Upset results marked the W-League semi-finals as the two top sides were eliminated on home turf, leaving third-placed Melbourne Victory to host fourth-placed Brisbane Roar in next weekend’s championship decider. Saturday saw Brisbane Roar edge a 2-1 win over Canberra United with midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight nabbing a second-half winner leaving her side in the hunt for an unprecedented third crown. The second semi-final produced another thriller with Melbourne Victory denying Sydney FC, who went down by the odd goal in five. American midfielder Lauren Barnes, on loan from Seattle Reign, scored the winner from the penalty spot midway through the second half after Sydney had rallied from two goals down.
*Spain: Leaders stay strong *There was little change in the upper reaches of the Spanish league table, with the top four top teams all in the winners’ circle amid an avalanche of goals. Athletic Bilbao were the biggest victors, racking up seven unanswered goals at home against Prainsa Zaragoza, with the prolific Nekane nabbing a treble for last season’s runners-up. League leaders Barcelona remain firmly on track for a third successive title on the back of their 4-1 win over Oviedo Moderno, which maintained their ten-point margin at the summit. Sonia Bermudez led the way for the Catalans, scoring a double to extend her lead at the top of the league’s goalscorers list.
*Top three: Barcelona (57), Athletic Bilbao (47), Valencia (44) *
*Republic of Ireland: Top two continue charge *
Champions Raheny United were comfortable 4-1 winners over DLR Waves to remain in pole position in the push to retain their league crown. Second placed Peamount United – the only other club to have won the league which is now in its third season - secured an emphatic 6-2 victory over Shamrock Rovers, with three players netting doubles including the league’s former leading goalscorer Stephanie Roche. Although only just past the halfway point of the season, the league title already seems certain to be a two-horse between Peamount and Raheny.
*Top three: Raheny United (40), Peamount United (37), Castlebar Celtic (24) *