SCANDINAVIA: Denmark and Norway weekly review

Denmark

Snow disrupts action in the Superliga, leaving the relegation zone as cramped as ever

Heavy snow across Denmark impacted on this weekend’s action with both Aalborg vs. Nordsjælland and SønderjyskE vs. Esbjerg postponed as a result, but there were at least four good games to make up for it.

København increased their lead at the top of the table to sixteen points (until Nordsjælland’s postponed game is replayed, at least) with a 2-1 win over Horsens on Friday evening. It wasn’t easy an easy task for Byens Hold though, as it took a last-minute Claudemir goal to secure a ninth straight league win. Horsens are currently the only side to win against København this season, and it looked like they might be victorious again when Charles Takyi gave the visitors the lead after seventeen minutes. The home side fought back immediately and equalised twelve minutes later through Cesar Santin, but it wasn’t until the very last moments of the match that fellow Brazilian Claudemir was able to score the winner for the league leaders.

There was no action on Saturday or Monday due to the snow, so the remaining three games of the weekend were all played on Sunday. The ever-impressive Randers picked up their fourth consecutive league win to move above Nordsjælland to second when they beat Silkeborg 1-0 at home. The defeat was significant for the visitors too, as it sends them down to bottom of the table, albeit equal on points with both SønderjyskE and Brøndby.

Last week’s 3-0 victory away to AGF seems to have spurred on Brøndby as they picked up a 1-1 draw at home to seventh-place Midtjylland to move them out of the relegation zone. The home side went into the break ahead thanks to a forty-first minute goal from Zimbabwean striker Quincy Antipas, but Midtjylland hit back after the break and equalised just four minutes into the second half through Mads Albæk. Midtjylland are now unbeaten in their last four league games, but are only six points clear of the relegation zone after failing to win in their last two.

AGF made up for last week’s shock defeat to Brøndby by picking up their first victory since the winter break with a 2-1 win over Odense. The win moves them above Odense into fifth place, and the latter are now without a win in four league games, last winning at home to Esbjerg on the 1st December. It was a positive start for Odense, however, as Emil Larsen put them ahead after only six minutes, but AGF responded immediately through Anders Kure just two minutes later. The scores remained tied until deep into the second half before Osarna Akharraz scored after seventy-two minutes to give AGF their first victory in almost a month.

Norway

Reigning champions Molde get off to a poor start, whilst Aalesund fly to the top

This weekend also saw the return of Tippeligaen, Norway’s top flight of football, back again for yet another season of fierce battles and top-quality excitement!

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s reigning champions Molde kicked off proceedings on Friday evening away to Kjell Jonevret’s Viking, who finished last season in fifth. It wasn’t the best of starts for last season’s league winners, however, as two goals in either half from Veton Berisha and Trond Olsen cancelled out a ninth-minute Matthias Moström opener to give Viking a strong three points to start the new season with.

Strømsgodset and Rosenborg, arguably the two main contenders for this year’s title alongside Molde, got off to significantly better starts than their western rivals, beating Sandnes Ulf 2-0 and Odd Grenland 1-0, respectively. Péter Kovács and Lars Vilsvik hit the back of the net in either half for Strømsgodset in their comfortable home win against last season’s strugglers, whilst a single Mike Jensen goal was enough for Rosenborg in their away victory in Skien against the club that the Norwegian giants were founded as a tribute to.

The opening weekend was also a good one for the two newly promoted sides, Start and Sarpsborg 08. Both clubs were relegated to Adeccoligaen – the Norwegian second tier – at the end of the 2011 season, but bounced back straight away after a strong 2012. It looked like Sarpsborg were going to kick off their return to the top-flight with a win away to Lillestrøm after going 2-0 up with half-an-hour left to play thanks to a fine brace from Norway U19 star Mohamed Elyounoussi, but two goals in three minutes soon after from Petter Vaagan Moen (from the penalty spot) and Thorstein Helstad salvaged a point for last year’s ninth-place finishers.

It was a good start for Start (apologies…) too with a 3-2 win over Hønefoss. 3-0 up after 33 minutes thanks to goals from Jesper Mathisen, Matthías Vilhjálmsson and Espen Hoff, last year’s Adeccoligaen winners almost lost their way in the second half when Hønefoss tried to initiate a comeback through goals from Mats Kaland and Heiner Mora, but Start held on to pick up all three points.

In a game that was even from start to finish, Sogndal and Tromsø had to share the points when they drew 2-2 at Fosshaugane Campus on Sunday afternoon. Ricardo Santos put the home side ahead twenty-six minutes into the first half before Remi Johansen equalised for Tromsø moments before the whistle blew for half time. Ulrik Flo, nephew of Tore André Flo, put Sogndal back ahead five minutes after the restart but Thomas Bendiksen, a former Rangers player, grabbed another Tromsø equaliser ten minutes later, which proved to be the decider.

Aalesund got off to the most promising start to the season with a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Haugesund, with all three goals – one from Tremaine Stewart and two from Michael Barrantes – coming within the first forty-one minutes.

It was a similar story for Brann too who beat Vålerenga 3-1 in front of 12,000 in Bergen. Fredrik Haugen gave them a first half lead when he hit the back of the net after only thirteen minutes, before Kristoffer Larsen doubled their lead shortly after the restart and Fredrik Nordkvelle made it 3-0 with sixteen minutes left to play. Torgeir Børven pulled one back for the visitors three minutes later but it was too little too late, leaving Kjetil Rekdal to leave Brann Stadion with no points in his first game back as manager of Vålerenga after a seven year absence.

Ben Cullimore

Follow Ben on Twitter by clicking his name above or alternatively @thenorsenetwork

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