As the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ draws ever closer, anticipation is steadily building. While international players eagerly await this season’s showpiece event, many still have points and titles to play for at club level, as they seek timely confidence boosts before heading to Canada. FIFA.com brings you up-to-date with all the latest news in women’s football over the past week.
Without a doubt, the match that attracted the most attention over the past few days was the UEFA Women’s Champions League final in Berlin, where Paris Saint-Germain and Frankfurt battled it out for Europe’s most prestigious crown. In an enthralling encounter, substitute Mandy Islacker scored a 92nd-minute winner in a 2-1 victory for the Germans, after Marie-Laure Delie found the net five minutes before the break to cancel out Celia Sasic’s 32nd-minute opener for the Frankfurt side.
“I still can’t quite believe it – it’s incredible,” match-winner Islacker told German broadcaster ZDF. “I saw the ball come towards me and just thumped it. That’s the greatest moment of my career.” Sasic was similarly overwhelmed, adding: “We created pressure from the start, but to make that breakthrough so close to the end of the game was madness. We’re just so proud.”
A total of eight French internationals, all of them representing PSG, and nine members of the Germany squad – six for Frankfurt, three for the Paris club – were involved in the Champions League final and must now turn their attentions to this summer’s World Cup in Canada. One player who will not be joining them is Germany and PSG’s Lira Alushi, who withdrew from the national squad after announcing that she is expecting a baby later this year.
USA: Leading trio all drop points
The NWSL provides plenty of diversion even in the absence of its US internationals – and the most recent round of matches was no exception, with none of the top three sides managing to secure a win. League leaders Chicago Red Stars had to be content with a 2-2 stalemate at Houston Dash, while Kansas City were unable to break the deadlock in a goalless draw against Western New York Flash. The situation was even worse for Portland Thorns, who suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Boston Breakers. Washington Spirit took advantage of these stumbles with a 1-0 win over Sky Blue FC to lift them to second in the table.
Top three: Chicago Red Stars (11 points), Washington Spirit, FC Kansas City (both 10), Portland Thorns (8)
Sweden: Defending champions pull away from the pack
In Sweden’s Damallsvenskan, top-of-the-table Rosengard have now amassed an impressive six wins in six matches. Despite conceding an early goal, five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Marta and her team-mates delivered another fine performance against closest rivals Eskilstuna United to open up a six-point advantage over the rest of the league, with the Brazilian herself levelling the scores. Kristianstads capitalised where Eskilstuna failed, beating Mallbackens IF Sunne 2-1 to move into second place.
Top three: Rosengard (18), Eskilstuna United, Kristianstads (both 12)
Japan: Top two march in step
With nine games played, NTV Beleza are now the only undefeated team in the L1 League Women. While the current runners-up encountered few problems en route to a 2-0 win away to Iga Kunoichi, JEF United suffered their first loss of the campaign at INAC Kobe Leonessa. The league leaders ultimately edged ahead of their opponents in a fascinating match that ended 4-3 and consigned United to fourth place, leapfrogged by a Vegalta Sendai side that cantered to a 6-1 victory over Okayama Yunogo Belle. Meanwhile, defending champions Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies remain entrenched in mid-table despite beating bottom-of-the-table Speranza 1-0.
Top three: INAC Kobe Leonessa (24), NTV Beleza (23), Vegalta Sendai (18)