Though the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ hogged the headlines over the weekend, women’s club football continued unabated in many parts of the globe. And defeats for competition leaders proved to be a theme as FIFA.com reviews the latest action in USA, Japan and Finland, while the title challenge continues to be hotly contested in Sweden.
*USA: Differing fortunes for north-west duo *
It took 17 matches but runaway leaders Seattle Reign have finally suffered the pain of defeat with a 1-0 reversal at the fast-improving Chicago Red Stars. An early goal from Canadian forward Melissa Tancredi proved enough to separate the teams and the three points pushed the Red Stars into a share of fourth spot. The big winners, however, were Seattle’s north-west neighbours Portland Thorns who overpowered the visiting Kansas City with a competition-record 7-1 scoreline. Portland’s star-studded attack came to the fore with Veronica Boquete and Allie Long nabbing doubles, while Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair were also on the scoresheet. Third-placed Washington Spirit claimed three crucial points at the expense of home side Western New York Flash thanks to a lone penalty from Diana Matheson, for whom German veteran Kerstin Garefrekes made her starting debut.
Top three: Seattle Reign (42 points), Kansas City (33), Washington Spirit (26)
*Japan: Leading duo under duress *
Urawa Red Diamonds and Okayama Belle Yunogo have dominated in Japan all season but now their championship charge is coming under threat from a familiar name. Twelve-time champions NTV Beleza have overcome a slow start to find some scintillating form, emphasised by a stunning 4-0 win at a Yunogo side that had lost just once in their 13 league outings. Urawa remain leaders on goal difference despite a 2-0 defeat against the visiting Albirex Niigata, for whom Megumi Kamionobe scored twice from set-pieces. The unexpected slide for INAC Kobe Leonessa - league champions for the past three seasons - continued with a 1-0 defeat against JEF United.
*Top three: Urawa Red Diamonds, Okayama Belle Yunogo (both 29), NTV Beleza (26) *
*Sweden: Orebro hunt top spot *The final match prior to a three-week mid-season break in Sweden saw Orebro collect a 2-0 win over Linkopings to claim a joint share of the summit. First half goals from Sarah Michael and Sanna Talonen were enough to lift the home side level on points alongside Rosengard, though still trailing the champions on goal difference. The league is at the midway point of the season with 2014 UEFA Women’s Champions League finalists Tyreso withdrawing last month reducing the competition to an 11-team, 20-round competition.
*Top three: Rosengard, Orebro (both 27), Kopparbergs/ Goteborg (21) *
*Finland: Tense at the summit *A top of the table clash has resulted in a new name atop the standings in Finland as Aland United edged past PK-35 Vantaa with a 1-0 victory. Nigerian striker and former African Player of the Year Cynthia Uwak scored the crucial goal in the first half to give the reigning champions the edge for the title run-in. Third-placed FC Honka continue to maintain the pressure on the leading pair thanks to a comfortable 5-0 win over Kokkolo F10.
*Top three: Aland United (31), PK-35 Vantaa (30), FC Honka (27) *