In the league of the world champions, a new champion has been revealed and under the most dramatic of circumstances. In Sweden, meanwhile, Linkopings hold all the aces, while there was a major surprise in Germany’s DFB Cup. FIFA.com looks back at events in selected women’s leagues across the globe.
Few spectacles offered up as much suspense as the finale of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). For the first time in its young history, a penalty shootout was used to determine the champion, with Western New York Flash prevailing 5-4 from the spot against Washington Spirit in a compelling contest at Houston’s Compass Stadium. Crystal Dunn had put the Spirit ahead as early as the ninth minute, before Samantha Mewis levelled things up five minutes later. The teams remained deadlocked and the match went to extra time, with Dunn restoring her side’s lead just one minute after the restart. The Flash summoned all their fighting spirit and managed to force in a dramatic last-minute equaliser through Lynn Williams (120+4’). In the subsequent shootout, goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo was the Flash’s heroine, saving three spot-kicks from Ali Krieger, Victoria Huster and Diana Matheson to bring home the trophy.
"The team did so well to level things up; it was my job to save the day,” said D’Angelo afterwards. “It’s just a gut feeling. As soon as Lynn scored I knew we were going to win in PKs. I just had the confidence and the sureness that I was going to save. And it’s funny, one of the players – Taylor [Smith] – said, “You’re going to save three of them.” It’s just the way it worked out. I couldn’t have done it without them equalising on the field.”
Japan: NTV Beleza record 13th win
The league season in Japan is also entering its home straight. With two matchdays remaining, NTV Beleza have established an unassailable ten-point lead over second-placed INAC Kobe Leonessa. Beleza’s latest victory came on matchday 16, as Mina Tanaka’s strike gave them a 1-0 win against Vegalta Sendai, while Leonessa climbed to second thanks to a comprehensive 5-0 win over Parceiro Nagano. The final round of matches will be played on 23 October, after which the top six teams will go into the championship play-off round to decide the league champion.
The top three: NTV Beleza (41 points), INAC Kobe Leonessa, Parceiro Nagano (both 31)
Germany: Bremen dump Potsdam out of cup
They may be flying high at the top of the Women’s Bundesliga but heavyweights 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam will not be picking up the first trophy of the season after crashing out of the DFB Cup in a surprise defeat to Werder Bremen. Matthias Rudolph’s side were eliminated 6-5 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 at the end of extra time. Bremen, second in Bundesliga 2 North, had taken the lead in the first half through Reena Wichmann and were seconds away from winning in normal time, only for Potsdam’s Johanna Elsig to equalise in stoppage time. “What the team produced in the 90 minutes was a really top-class performance, and I think Potsdam were a little bit surprised,” said Bremen coach Steffen Rau to the club’s official website. “In extra time the objective was to keep them out. And then the penalties came.”
The other top-flight sides had no such trouble reaching round three. Champions FC Bayern Munich swept aside 1. FC Riegelsberg 15-0, while cup holders VfL Wolfsburg beat Fortuna Dresden 9-0. SC Freiburg also saw off SC Andernach (4-0) and 1. FFC Frankfurt were too good for Hegauer FV (2-0).
Sweden: Linkopings win heavyweight clash
In Sweden's Damallsvenskan, Linkopings FC managed to grind out a 1-0 win against FC Rosengard in their highly anticipated top-of-the-table clash, with Norwegian Kristina Minde netting the winning goal. The team from Malmo may have beaten Linkopings in the cup final recently, but Martin Sjogren’s side now hold all the aces in the title race. They boast a five-point cushion over nearest challengers Rosengard and are well placed to become champions with three rounds of matches left to play. It would be the club’s second Damallsvenskan triumph after they won the league and cup double in 2009.
The top three: Linkopings FC (53), FC Rosengard (48), Pitea (33)