Women's Football

Title drama in Japan as Lyon, Chelsea excel

NTV Beleza celebrate a goal in the Nadeshiko League
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Abundant excitement and goals galore proved to be the recurring features of top-flight action across women’s football over the past week. Indeed, while Germany takes a break and USA limbers up for the NWSL finale, the drama is being provided elsewhere, with NTV Beleza pipping their rivals at the post in Japan as Chelsea and Manchester City slug it out, Lyon stun PSG and Rosengard close in on Sweden’s pace-setters.

*Japan: NTV crowned as stalemates thwart INAC *
NTV Beleza are champions of Japan for a record 13th time, but only after the most dramatic of conclusions to a topsy-turvy title race. INAC Kobe Leonessa had seemed all but certain of claiming the prize, but faltered as the campaign neared its conclusion, winning just one of their final four matches. A defeat to NTV kicked off that costly run, but it was successive 0-0 draws in the concluding week against JEF United and Urawa Reds that sealed their fate. NTV, for their part, peaked at just the right time to take full advantage, with their first championship since 2010 secured by a thumping 6-1 final-day win away to Speranza in which Yuka Momiki and Mina Tanaka both grabbed braces.
Top three: NTV Beleza (43 points), INAC Kobe Leonessa (42), Vegalta Sendai (36)
*
England: Chelsea in pole as final day approaches *The Women’s Super League title race has once again gone down to the wire, with both remaining contenders approaching the final day in fine form. Chelsea continue to lead that race by two points after an impressive 4-0 win over dethroned champions Liverpool, illuminated by a double from Ji So-Yun and strikes from Fran Kirby and Eniola Aluko. The Blues have, though, stumbled on the final day before and Manchester City could not be doing any more to keep up the pressure. Nick Cushing’s side are unbeaten in the league since April, having won seven and drawn two of their last nine WSL matches, and they produced another awesome display on Sunday to stay in touch. Bristol Academy were their victims on this occasion, succumbing to relegation on the back of 6-1 defeat in which City star Isobel Christiansen scored a double.
*Top three: Chelsea (29 points), Manchester City (27), Arsenal (24) *

*Sweden: Rosengard narrow the gap as leaders slip up *Just one point now separates first from second in the Damallsvenskan after leaders Eskilstuna United’s six-match winning run came to an abrupt halt. Pitea were the team to end it, winning 1-0 thanks to Emelie Lovgren’s 81st-minute goal and, in doing so, moving to within five points of their opponents. Marta’s Rosengard are closer still, although they left it even later – until the 86th minute – to settle the outcome of a tricky trip to Hammarby. New Zealand international Ali Riley was their match-winner, securing a result that considerably boosts the reigning champions’ chances of retaining their crown.
Top three: Eskilstuna (43 points), Rosengard (42), Linkoping (40)

*France: Five-star Lyon crush PSG *With four wins from four, 29 goals scored and zero conceded, Lyon are proving that they will take some catching as they chase a tenth successive title. This latest victory, though, was their most impressive thus far, with star-studded Paris Saint-Germain – who pushed Lyon all the way last season – being beaten 5-0. Norway international Ada Hegerberg was the star of the show, hitting an impressive hat-trick to cement her position as the division’s top scorer and leave PSG languishing in fifth, five points off the pace. The stiffest challenge to Lyon, for now at least, is coming from Montpellier and Juvisy, both of whom kept to within two points of the leaders over the weekend thanks to hard-fought wins over Saint-Etienne and VGA Saint-Maur respectively.
Top three: Lyon (16 points), Montpellier, Juvisy (both 14)

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