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Double joy for Wolfsburg, Sky Blue fly high
Wolfsburg continued their upward trajectory by completing the domestic double on the weekend ahead of this week’s UEFA Women’s Champions League final. INAC Kobe Leonessa are perfectly placed to continue their domination in Japan, while a battle royale looms large in the Low Countries. Meanwhile, the maiden season of the USA’s new national league continues apace with teams from either side of country making the early running. FIFA.com wraps up the action from across three continents.
Germany: Treble bid remains intact
Victory over Turbine Potsdam in the German Cup final saw Wolfsburg claim a second piece of silverware within a week to keep their bid for a maiden treble on track. Nearly 15,000 spectators were on hand in Cologne to see the Wolfinnen enjoy the perfect preparation for Thursday’s UEFA Champions League final against continental powerhouse Lyon. A double from Martina Muller and another from Conny Pohlers had Wolfsburg well on their way, however quickfire goals from Lisa Evans and Yuki Ogimi around the hour mark set up a tense final half-hour worthy of the occasion. Despite laying siege to Jana Burmeister’s goal in the latter stages, the dethroned league champions could not, however, conjure an equaliser.
USA: Sky Blue soaring
The battle for supremacy is heating up in the maiden NWSL season with Portland Thorns and Boston Breakers the last sides in the competition to lose their unbeaten records. Most attention was on a top-of-the-table clash between Portland and the visiting Sky Blue FC on Thursday. The New Jersey based Sky Blue came away with a crucial win from their long trip to the north-west thanks to a lone second half strike from substitute midfielder Taylor Lytle. Another three points on Sunday - a 3-0 win at Seattle Reign – lifted Jim Gabara’s side alongside Portland sharing exactly the same points and goal difference. Portland bounced back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Washington Spirit with goals from star forwards Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan.
Top three: Sky Blue FC, Portland Thorns (both 16 points), Kansas City (10)
Japan: Perfect Leonessa march on
INAC Kobe Leonessa are well on the way to retaining their league title after a comprehensive 6-0 win at Takahashi-Kibi left them nine points clear at the halfway point of the 18-match campaign. Korea Republic midfield star Ji So-Yun bagged a treble, while Nahomi Kawasumi scored twice as the champions maintained a 100 per cent record. Long-term rivals NTV Beleza rebounded following some recent indifferent form to record an emphatic 5-0 win over newly-promoted Vegalta Sendai. Nanase Kiryu and Japan midfielder Mizuho Sakaguchi both hit doubles for the Tokyo outfit.
Top three: INAC Kobe Leonessa (27), NTV Beleza (18), Iga Kunoichi, Vegalta Sendai (both 15)
Belgium/Netherlands: Storybook conclusion awaits
A perfect finale to the inaugural BeNe League season looms this weekend with the two remaining title contenders – Standard Liege and FC Twente – facing each other in the final round. The 16-team competition, which features teams from Belgium and Netherlands concludes on Saturday, with Twente needing all three points in Enschede if they are to overhaul the visiting Belgians on the last day of the campaign. Liege stumbled in the penultimate round with a 2-2 comeback draw against Lierse, while Twente also had to come from behind for a 3-1 win at Anderlecht.
Top three: Standard Liege (31), FC Twente (30), PSV/FC Eindhoven (23)
Courtois Straight Through to the Semis
12. December 98
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day