Three time European champions 1. FFC Frankfurt booked a return to UEFA competition and set up a German title decider with holders VfL Wolfsburg after a dramatic defeat of 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam on a weekend where Paris Saint-Germain and SV Neulengbach also booked continental spots, and Shelley Kerr bowed out as Arsenal LFC manager with the FA Women's Cup.
Going into the penultimate round of matches on Sunday, Frankfurt led UEFA Women's Champions League winners Wolfsburg by a point with Potsdam one further behind. Wolfsburg eased to a 2-0 win at BV Cloppenburg but the key action was in Frankfurt where 7,250 fans watched a thrilling match.
German Cup winners Frankfurt, who began their last home game of the season with a ceremony to thank departing players Lira Alushi, Melanie Behringer, Alina Garciamendez, Babett Peter, Meike Weber and Jessica Wich, dominated early on. However, they only the broke the deadlock when Alushi pounced on a rebound when Anna Sarholz parried Simone Laudehr's shot.
Potsdam, who knew defeat would end their title hopes, levelled when Johanna Elsig's long ball was flicked into her own net by Saskia Bartusiak, who was taken off with a bad-looking knee injury having collided with keeper Desirée Schumann. Schumann was to save a Maren Mjelde penalty with nine minutes left and in added time Behringer's free-kick was flicked on by Dzsenifer Marozsán and headed in by Kerstin Garefrekes to keep Frankfurt at the top of the table.
The result keeps Frankfurt a point ahead of Wolfsburg, who they visit next Sunday, and books them a first UEFA Women's Champions League place since reaching the 2012 final, and leaves Potsdam out of Europe for the only time since 2008/09. Frankfurt coach Colin Bell said: "I would have been happy with the 1-1 [after the penalty save]. Unbelievably, we were still able to get a second goal. It was certainly a lucky win, but Champions League qualification means the entire season has been a success. Now we look forward to a great final in Wolfsburg."
Olympique Lyonnais, who beat Frankfurt in that 2012 final, had already clinched the French title before this weekend but the second European slot was up for grabs and that went to Paris, who defeated reglated Yzeure Allier Auvergne FF 4-0 to remain a point ahead of the side with whom they drew 1-1 last week, FCF Juvisy Essonne. Juvisy won 10-0 at bottom side AS Muret.
Neulengbach, who reached the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finals last season, ensured a 12th straight Austrian title with a game to spare by winning 4-1 at nearest challengers FSK St. Pölten-Spratzern.
Last season Spratzern got into Europe as Austria had two slots for the first time; for 2014/15, the Czech Republic have replaced then in eighth spot and SK Slavia Praha will join regulars AC Sparta Praha in continental competition. Indeed, Slavia are on course to end Sparta's run of nine straight titles after winning 3-2 at their neighbours to go two points ahead with one game left.
Manager Kerr announced last month that she would leave Arsenal with the club bottom of the FA Women's Super League and her farewell game was Sunday's FA Women's Cup final, the Gunners retaining the trophy by overcoming Everton LFC, and making it 13 victories from 14 deciders – both records. Kelly Smith opened the scoring with a free-kick, equalling Julie Fleeting's best of six in finals, and victory was clinched just past the hour by Yukari Kinga, the Japanese midfielder the first non-British player to strike in an FA Women's Cup final and the only Asian to claim a goal in an FA Cup final for either gender.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.