*FIFA.com *reviews the latest women’s club football with numerous league campaigns reaching a climax, while a host of others are just getting underway. Two clubs will seek maiden glory in this weekend’s title-decider in the USA, while silverware went up for grabs last weekend in England and Iceland. It is a very different scenario elsewhere in Europe, and we look at early season action in Germany and Italy.
USA: And then there were two
A surprise in the NWSL with table-toppers Portland Thorns missing out on the championship decider, with their loss against Western New York Flash meaning a new name will be added to the competition’s honour board after Sunday’s final. A Portland crowd of 20,086 – a NWSL play-off record – undoubtedly went home unhappy with the result, but enlivened by an action-packed seven-goal extra-time thriller. Flash striker Lynn Williams – who finished the regular season as the NWSL’s top goalscorer – proved to be the difference after scoring twice in extra time, following a 2-2 result at the end of the regulation 90 minutes. Result aside, it was a magnificent showpiece between the league’s best defensive side and its best attacking force in the Flash. “Everyone had us in ninth place or 10th place at the start of the season,” said Flash coach Paul Riley. “This is a great story of a young team.”
Washington Spirit, who led the ladder for long periods of the season only to miss the NWSL Shield on the final weekend, will be the Flash’s opponents in the season decider. The Spirit also needed extra time to advance with Nigerian attacker Francisca Ordega scoring the winner just minutes after entering the fray for a 2-1 scoreline. It was a first-ever play-off win for the Spirit who now head into the final in Houston, boasting a win and a draw against the Flash this season.
*England: Double glory for City *
A week after winning the league title, Manchester City found themselves celebrating once again, this time having won the FA WSL Cup for the second time in three years. But it took a Lucy Bronze headed winner in extra time to see off a stubborn Birmingham City, following 90 scoreless minutes. It is City’s third major honour in just their third season in the top flight. The win also provides a confidence boost for City ahead of their long-awaited UEFA Women’s Champions League debut in midweek at Russia’s Zvezda.
*Germany: Turbine maintain momentum, Bayern finally edge win *Turbine Potsdam continued their perfect start to the season with a tough 1-0 win over the under-rated SC Sand. Anna Gasper’s second-half winner proved enough for a fourth victory in succession, leaving last season’s horror campaign fast becoming a distant memory. Second-placed Wolfsburg geared up for their headline Women’s Champions League tie against Chelsea with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Duisburg. Champions Bayern Munich finally recorded a win, but it took a lone Gina Lewandowski strike to see off Bayer Leverkusen. There was less joy for another league heavyweight as FFC Frankfurt were held to a scoreless draw at Freiburg.
*Top three: Turbine Potsdam (12 points), Essen, Wolfsburg (both 10) *
Silverware sought and won *Elsewhere, *Italy’s *league season got underway with league champions Brescia enjoying a good week. The Lombardy club began their title defence with a 6-0 win over newly-promoted Chieti to boast a slim hold of top-spot on goal difference. A few days earlier *La Leonesse *collected their third successive Super Cup with a 2-0 win over Verona, thanks to a double from the prolific Daniela Sabatini. Meanwhile in *Iceland, Stjarnan won their fourth league title in six seasons after easing to a 4-0 win over Hafnarfjordur, while second-placed Breidablik stumbled to defeat leaving a five-point margin at the summit.