Erratic form for the leading pack in USA and England was a recurring theme over the weekend where exciting conclusions to the respective league seasons loom. FIFA.com’s weekly review of women’s club football also looks at the latest from Scandinavia, as Linkopings defied the odds to claim a cup triumph, plus the opening to the new season in Denmark.
*USA: Frontrunners stumble *There were modest pickings over the weekend for the leading pack as USA’s NWSL enters its final month of the regular season. Leaders Seattle Reign had a week off but would have enjoyed watching from the sidelines as second-placed Chicago Red Stars crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Portland Thorns. Midfielder Allie Long scored both goals to move equal second on the NWSL goalscorer list. The win, which saw the home side attract 15,000 spectators for the second time in five days, lifted the Thorns to fourth after they also won 5-2 over Boston Breakers in a midweek contest to break a modest run of home form. Washington Spirit remain third despite a 2-1 defeat at Boston Breakers, while fourth-placed FC Kansas City maintained their finals’ aspirations with a 4-0 win over Western New York Flash in front of a sold-out home crowd.
*Seattle Reign (30 points), Chicago Red Stars (27), Washington Spirit (24) *
*England: Four-way contest continues *
Leaders Chelsea overpowered Birmingham City with four unanswered goals, while fellow title aspirants Sunderland and Arsenal both stumbled as the race for the league crown intensified with four rounds remaining. England forward Eniola Aluko netted twice while Three Lionesses team-mate Fran Kirby scored on her Blues’ debut. The result meant Sunderland lost their grip on top spot after they needed a late Kelly McDougall strike to secure a 2-2 draw against the visiting Liverpool. Arsenal missed the chance to go top when they suffered a 3-2 home loss against Manchester City, who now sit just three points off the summit. Toni Duggan’s spectacular curling effort into the top corner proved to be a worthy winner for the ambitious City.
*Top three: Chelsea (20), Sunderland (19), Arsenal (18) *
*Northern Europe: Silverware claimed, new campaigns *Linkopings maintained their status as cup queens in *Sweden *with a 2-0 defeat over a star-studded Rosengard in Sunday’s final where over 5,000 fans were present. Goals in each half from prolific young striker Stina Blackstenius and Denmark striker Pernille Harder saw Linkopings claim their fifth Swedish Cup final win from as many appearances.
The new season in *Denmark *commenced with a surprise as holders Fortuna Hjorring were held to a 2-2 draw at Skovbakken. However, 2013 champions and regular title challengers Brondby stormed to a comprehensive 5-0 win at Vejle to open their campaign in style. Meanwhile, there was a rare stumble for *Norway *leaders LSK Kvinner who were held to a scoreless draw at mid-table Stabaek. The result saw the champions’ lead trimmed to six points as Avaldsnes eased past Arna Bjornar with five unanswered goals.