Morgan leads Lyon charge, fresh start in Brazil
It was a low-key return to club football across much of the globe following an intense period of action during the international window highlighted by the SheBelieves Cup, Algarve Cup, Cyprus Cup and more. Nevertheless, there was some intriguing action in Switzerland, Italy and France where star Lyon recruit Alex Morgan had a day to remember. This week FIFA.com’s regular round-up of women’s club football also looks at news from Brazil where a long-awaited new-look national competition has finally arrived.
French Cup: Success for big names and small Lyon eased their way into the French Cup semi-finals with a 6-0 rout of Rodez, but all the headlines surrounded USA forward Alex Morgan. Lyon’s superstar recruit bagged a treble in her first full 90 minutes since joining the club earlier this year. Hunting a sixth successive cup crown, the holders will next tackle regional side Henin-Beaumont who advanced with an impressive 1-0 upset win over top-flight side Soyaux. Remarkably, the only goal of the match came after just 20 seconds from Camille Lewandoski.
Lyon's rivals Paris Saint-Germain remain alive on the other side of the draw – but only just. PSG edged a 6-5 shoot-out win over fellow capital club Juvisy, following a 1-1 draw. Meanwhile, ambitious Montpellier had no such luck, suffering a 1-0 loss against Saint Etienne, for whom Rose Lavaud scored the all-important goal. The semi-finals will take place on 16 April, with the final on 20 May. League action returns next weekend with Lyon defending a four-point lead over PSG.
Switzerland: Leaders on the slide The international break has proved to be an unwanted distraction for Swiss leaders FC Neunkirch. After winning 11 straight to open the season, and dropping their first points with a draw just a fortnight ago, Neunkirch have now suffered a maiden loss of the campaign. A trip to Berne to face Young Boys ended in a 1-0 defeat as Florijana Ismaili netted the match-winner in the final minute.
While Neunkirch have flagged, FC Zurich have taken full toll with maximum points during those two rounds to re-open a title race that was starting to look over. Second-placed Zurich, seeking to defend their five-year grip as champions, were pushed all the way before earning a 2-1 home victory over Luzern. Fabienne Humm netted a second-half winner as Zurich collected a fourth successive win since the winter break to further heap pressure on the leaders. Top three: FC Neunkirch (34 points), FC Zurich (30), FC Basel (28)
Italy: La Viola hit wrong note Fiorentina hopes of a maiden Serie A title have suffered a blow as Mozzanica inflicted a first defeat of the season on the frontrunners. Andrea Scarpellini scored early with what proved to be the only goal amid an enthralling contest in Bergamo, in front of a gallery that included national team coach Antonio Cabrini. With six rounds remaining, Fiorentina’s lead at the summit has been trimmed to three points. Second-placed Brescia had a far easier time of things with their 4-0 win over bottom side Jesina based around a double from Daniela Sabatino. Top three: Fiorentina (45), Brescia (42), Mozzanica (31)
Brazil: New competition, new aspirations The much-anticipated new-look Brazilian league (Brasileiro Feminino) is finally underway. The 16-team national competition includes some of the biggest names in the Brazilian game: Corinthians, Santos, Gremio and reigning champions Flamengo among them. The relaunched competition commenced on Saturday – a few days after International Women’s Day - with Vitoria hosting Flamengo. And it was the champions who secured a 3-0 win with midfielder Diany having the honour of being the competition’s first goalscorer with a second-half strike.