There were pivotal match-ups in USA and Japan as the respective seasons reached key milestones, providing an equal dose of joy and anguish. It is a different story in Switzerland as the new season gathers momentum, while in Norway a fresh star shone brightly. *FIFA.com *reviews the latest in the world of women’s club football.
*USA: Morgan to the rescue *Genuine star players seem to shine when the spotlight is at its greatest. And USA icon Alex Morgan proved her worth at the critical moment to dramatically keep alive Portland Thorns’ title defence. Portland, needing a win to leapfrog into the NWSL play-offs, scored the only goal of the game thanks to a trademark Morgan header in front of 17,000 fans in the Pacific Northwest derby against Seattle Reign, inflicting just a second defeat on the league leaders. The result meant heartbreak for Chicago Red Stars who missed the play-offs on goal difference behind Washington Spirit. The Red Stars had secured a last-gasp equaliser in an action-packed 3-3 draw 24 hours earlier against Western New York Flash. Two British stars ended the regular season on a statistical high with Seattle’s Scottish forward Kim Little the league’s top goalscorer (16), while team-mate and Wales captain Jess Fishlock provided a competition-high eight assists.
*Top there: Seattle Reign (54 points), FC Kansas City (41), Portland Thorns (36) *
*Japan: New face at the summit *
In a league long dominated by others, Okayama Belle Yunogo are now enjoying their moment in the sun following a tense finale to the opening stage of the league season. The top teams have been dropping points throughout the closing stages, but Okayama outlasted all others thanks to a 7-0 win over Kibi University, with national team skipper Aya Miyama nabbing a hat-trick. Elsewhere there was anguish for long-term leaders Urawa Reds, where a 1-0 defeat against INAC Kobe Leonessa meant they lost their grasp on top spot, and also NTV Beleza who conceded a last minute goal to draw 3-3 against struggling Elfen Saitama and also miss out on top spot. Leonessa edged into the top six championship series to maintain hope of retaining their title.
*Top three: Okayama Belle Yunogo (36), NTV Beleza, Urawa Reds (both 35) *
*Norway: Champs pegged back *
Leaders LSK Kvinner suffered a stunning 4-1 home defeat against third-placed Roa to see their margin at the summit trimmed to just two points. Roa’s new 19-year-old striker Sofie Jensen announced her arrival on the big stage scoring all four goals for the Olso side, which included a first-half treble. Last year’s champions Stabaek maintained their hold on second with a surprisingly hard-fought 2-1 win at struggling Amazon Grimstad, with veteran national team midfielder Ingvild Stensland scoring the winner.
*Top three: LSK Kvinner (32), Stabaek (30), Roa (28) *
*Switzerland: Zurich open brightly *
Swiss champions Zurich belatedly opened their campaign but it was worth the wait for their fans with the side collecting a comprehensive 7-0 win over St Gallen. Zurich, winners of the past three league titles, were delayed in their title defence due to UEFA Women’s Champions League commitments. Basel had made the most of Zurich’s absence winning the opening three games only to fall to a 1-0 defeat at Staad on the weekend.
Top three: Basel, Neunkirch (both 9), Young Boys, Yverdon (both 7)