Women's Football

Exciting finales and early frontrunners

NWSL  2nd round:: Portland Thorns - Seattle Reign FC
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While a number of league campaigns are only just beginning across the globe, it is the opposite scenario in much of Europe with the likes of Germany and Spain on the verge of uncovering their respective champions for 2013. Elsewhere, it is still early days in USA’s keenly-fought new national league and also in Japan’s Nadeshiko League. FIFA.com reviews some of this week's key action in women’s club football.

*USA: Road wins lift trio *Portland Thorns have an early lead on the fledgling National Women’s Soccer League table thanks to second-half goals from forwards Danielle Foxhoven and Christine Sinclair, which lifted the north-west side to a 2-0 win at Chicago Red Stars. Sky Blue FC, however, are the only team with a 100 per cent record on the back of Sophie Schmidt’s winner in a 2-1 victory over Washington Spirit. FC Kansas City and Boston Breakers share third after also being in the winner’s circle over the weekend. Lauren Cheney set up a goal in each half as Kansas saw off the visiting Seattle Reign. Meanwhile, Heather O’Reilly was the difference with her double enough for a 2-1 comeback win over Western New York Flash in the third away triumph of the round. The experienced O’Reilly was denied a hat-trick only by the woodwork, while Mexico national team goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago also shone for the Breakers on her league debut.
*Top three: Portland Thorns (7 points), Sky Blue FC (6), FC Kansas City, Boston Breakers (4) *

*Germany: Rare hiccup for Wolfsburg *Wolfsburg’s title charge has been put on hold after 1.FFC Frankfurt inflicted just a second league defeat on the leaders. Goals early in each half from Kerstin Garefrekes and Saskia Bartusiak lifted Frankfurt to within three points of the Lower Saxony club who, with a match in hand, could claim the title in next weekend’s penultimate round. Wolfsburg, who are seeking to break Frankfurt and Turbine Potsdam’s 12-year stranglehold on the league crown, are in the frame for an unlikely treble having reached both the UEFA Women’s Champions League and German Cup finals. Third-placed Turbine returned to winning ways on the weekend with a 3-0 triumph over Bayer Leverkusen, having suffered a 1-0 midweek loss against arch-rivals Frankfurt.
*Top three: Wolfsburg (47), 1.FFC Frankfurt (44), Turbine Potsdam (40) *

*Japan: Old and new shine for in-form champs *Though still early days in the 2013 campaign, Nadeshiko League powerhouse INAC Kobe Leonessa are firmly on track for their third successive title. Leonessa’s all-star line-up proved far too strong in front of a large crowd at newly promoted Vegalta Sendai. Somewhat symbolically, it was a case of the old and the new book-ending the goalscoring as Young Nadeshiko starlet Yoko Tanaka opened Leonessa's account, while 2011 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Homare Sawa capped a 5-1 win with an injury-time strike. In contrast, second-placed NTV Beleza dropped five points of the pace after six rounds with a surprise 1-0 defeat at Iga Kunoichi. Another former champion in Urawa Red Diamonds also lost on the road with the Saitama club felled 2-1 by an Albirex Niigata comeback.
Top three: INAC Kobe Leonessa (18), NTV Beleza (13), Vegalta Sendai (11)

*Spain: Top two set up dramatic finale *The title race is set for a thrilling denouement in Spain with the two frontrunners – Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona – set to meet in the final round separated by a single point. With home ground advantage and needing only a draw, Bilbao are in the box seat to overturn last year’s finale when Barcelona edged out their rivals for a maiden league crown. Both needed narrow wins over the weekend to maintain their respective positions with Bilbao edging Real Sociedad 2-1, while the Catalans were 1-0 victors over fourth-placed Levante.
Top three: Athletic Bilbao (74), Barcelona (73), Atletico Madrid (65)

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