Martin Whiteley gives us our weekly fix of women’s footballing news from across Europe.
Wolfsburg extend advantage with victory against nearest challenger
The Frauen-Bundesliga campaign returned to action after its winter break with a blockbuster of a clash between the sides occupying the top two places in the table. Unbeaten leaders Wolfsburg resumed play on 37 points, with Hoffenheim just three points behind. The only loss the second-place side had suffered this season was a 3-0 reversal away to Wolfsburg back in September.
A key trait for proven winners is the ability to force their closest rivals onto the back foot early in crucial contests. Wolfsburg executed this characteristic to perfection as they scored three of their goals in the opening 25 minutes of the game. The table-toppers made a clear statement that they will not be denied their fourth straight title — and sixth in the last eight years — as they ran out 5-2 winners.
The defeat for Hoffenheim allowed third-place Bayern Munich to move level with them on points. Against Bayer Leverkusen on home soil in the reverse fixture in September, Bayern had slipped to 2-1 defeat. There was no such mishap this time around for the side from Bavaria, as they ran out 3-0 winners to stretch their unbeaten league run to eight games.
Top two stretch Primera División Femenina unbeaten runs
After defeating Sporting Huelva 4-0 away in the last 16 of the Copa de la Reina midweek, leaders Barcelona followed up with a 7-0 victory against the same opponents at home in league play. Jenni Hermoso and substitute Asisat Oshoala each scored a brace. The win for Barcelona stretched their unbeaten league run to 19 games and moved them onto 53 points.
In the match of the round, second-place Atlético Madrid hosted Levante — the team a spot below and two points behind them in the table. Both sides were knocked out of the cup earlier in the week — Atlético on penalties away to Real Betis, Levante 3-0 away to Sevilla — but their recent league form has been very impressive. The home side came into this contest unbeaten in their last 15 games. Meanwhile, Levante had not tasted defeat in their last 10 outings. Atlético claimed a narrow 1-0 win in their first league meeting back in October, but the result was never in doubt on this occasion. The hosts led 3-0 by the half-hour mark — Toni Duggan with the second goal — and went on to record a 4-1 victory to stay nine points behind the leaders.
On the back of a cup win after extra-time at home to UDG Tenerife, fourth-place Athletic Bilbao advanced to 33 points after they came from behind to record a 2-1 victory on home soil against Real Sociedad. The loss for the visitors keeps them in sixth place on 29 points and completes a miserable week for the Basque Country side as they also suffered a cup loss on penalties at home to Madrid.
In the final game of the round, fifth-in-the-table Deportivo La Coruña travelled to face Rayo Vallecano. The visitors had lost their last two league games, but entered this contest having disposed of Valencia 7-2 at home in the cup earlier in the week. Rayo had similarly been in shaky recent form, having lost their last three league games and a cup-tie away to Tacón by a solitary goal.
Deportivo had claimed a 3-0 victory when the sides met earlier in the season, but it was a different story this time around. The visitors did score first, but a brace from Oriana Altuve turned the game in the favour of Rayo Vallecano. The loss for Deportivo keeps them on 30 points. The home side were able to solidify eighth spot and move within three points of their opponents with this win.
After a 2-0 away win against Espanyol in the cup, seventh-place Logroño moved to 28 points after a 1-1 draw on their travels against Sevilla.
Coupe de France Féminine last four set
Holders Lyon booked their semi-final place with a 2-0 victory away to Dijon. In the two league games between the sides this season the hosts had performed admirably. With home advantage, Dijon became the first side to take points off the champions after a goalless draw. On the road, Dijon held out for 75 minutes before falling to a 2-0 loss. Once again the home side were able to stay level with their opponents into the second half before Delphine Cascarino clipped home a cross from Lucy Bronze. Nikita Parris added the final Lyon goal. Alex Greenwood, the only Lioness not to start, came off the bench late on.
The tie of the round saw Montpellier, who currently occupy fourth spot in the Feminine Division 1 table, host the team just above them: Bordeaux. The match didn’t disappoint. The visitors had secured maximum points in their league encounter against Montpellier back in September with a narrow 1-0 success on home soil. This contest also proved to be a tight affair as Bordeaux advanced 6-5 on penalties. The visitors opened the scoring before Montpellier turned the tie on its head to lead 3-1. A quick-fire brace from Ouleymata Sarr — to complete her hat-trick — got Bordeaux back on level terms.
Arras saw their cup run end after a home defeat to PSG. The only side to make the last eight from outside the top-flight, the Feminine Division 2 team put up a spirited performance — including taking a brief early lead — before going down to a 3-1 loss. Nadia Nadim scored a brace.
In the final tie of the round, Guingamp advanced after a dramatic 2-1 victory at home against Stade Reims. Faustine Robert clinched the winner for the hosts two minutes into second-half stoppage time.
Follow Martin on Twitter @673martin