All to play for in France, Italy, Spain
FIFA.com reviews the latest women’s club football action where there were vastly contrasting fortunes for the leading pack in France, Spain and Italy, as well as Republic of Ireland. Most of the attention was on France, however, as two superstar line-ups jostled to gain the ascendency in a key match-up. And, as the European scene continues to gather momentum after mid-winter, there was little change in Italy, but a slip-up by the frontrunners in Spain.
France: Top-two stalemate favours Lyon In-form Paris Saint-Germain failed to make the most of a golden opportunity to close the gap on leaders Lyon, when they played out a scoreless draw against their championship rivals in the capital on Friday. Following recent wins over Juvisy and Montpellier, PSG desperately needed to follow those results with victory over Lyon if they were to cut into the three-point margin at the summit. In fact it was the visitors that had the better of an all-star contest, with free-scoring Norwegian forward Ada Hegerberg always dangerous, while Amel Majri hit the frame of PSG’s goal. The Parisians, who were unable to field newly-signed Brazilian star Rosana, will at least take solace after vastly improving upon a 5-0 defeat when the pair last met. While Lyon are well placed for a tenth successive title, Montpellier let slip a golden chance to close on the front pair after only managing a 1-1 draw at Saint Etienne. Juvisy, however, moved within two points of third with a tough 1-0 win at Saint-Maur. Top three: Lyon (56 points), Paris Saint-Germain (53), Montpellier (51)
Italy: As you were While there were few goals and tight results at the top in France, it was very different across the border in Italy where the top four all secured relatively comfortable wins. A three-way tie at the summit continued with Mozzanica clinging to pole position by virtue of goals scored, following their 2-0 win over Bari. Fiorentina closed with a 4-1 win over Riviera di Romagna, while Brescia also maintained their foothold at the summit with their 2-0 win at Vittorio Veneto. Verona sit just a point shy of the leading trio thanks to a 3-0 triumph at Luserna. Meanwhile, there is an intriguing sub-plot developing in the race to be top goalscorer as both leading contenders scored doubles over the weekend. Mozzanica's Valentina Giacinti has a handy four-goal advantage, but sitting second is veteran striker Patrizia Panico – Italy’s long-term goal queen – who is making strong headway after an unusually modest start to her season with Fiorentina. Top three: Mozzanica, Fiorentina, Brescia (all 29), Verona (28)
Spain: Bilbao stumble in title charge Athletic Bilbao’s bid to end a nine-year title drought hit a snag as they were unexpectedly held to a scoreless draw at home to midtable Levante. Barcelona - champions over the past four seasons - took full toll by triumphing 3-0 over Tenerife Sur. Atletico Madrid also made the most of the opportunity by closing to within six points of the top thanks to their 3-0 win at Rayo Vallecano. Top three: Athletic Bilbao (44), Barcelona (40), Atletico Madrid (38)
Republic of Ireland: Champs maintain push Action resumed in the Republic of Ireland following a mid-winter break, with the round highlighted by champions Wexford Youths tackling UCD Waves. And it was the former who remained top, albeit only on goal difference, thanks to a 4-2 scoreline. Galway proved to be too strong for Peamount United as they recorded a 3-1 victory to keep the pressure on the leaders. Top three: Wexford, Galway (both 12), Shelbourne (9)