SCANDINAVIA: Denmark, Norway and Sweden weekly review

DenmarkThe battle to avoid relegation heats up and Nordsjælland reduce København’s lead to seven points.

After losing for only the second time this season last week against bottom-of-the-table Silkeborg, København saw their lead at the top of the Superliga reduced to twelve points after Nordsjælland capitalised on their misfortunes by beating Midtjylland 3-1. With two games to play over the course of four days, last season’s champions had the opportunity to do that yet again when they faced Aalborg and Horsens this weekend, and they did exactly that, beating the two sides 1-0 and 2-0, respectively. København, meanwhile, faced Odense on Sunday evening, and after going a goal behind through Espen Ruud on the thirty-eighth minute, the league leaders were only able to force a draw thanks a fiftieth-minute goal from Swedish left-back Pierre Bengtsson. The point will not have satisfied Ariel Jacobs and his men, however, as their inability to win in the last three league games means that the gap between them and Nordsjælland is now only seven points with seven games left to play this season.

At the other end of the table, Horsens moved into the relegation zone as a result of their loss to Nordsjælland and SønderjyskE’s 3-1 win at home to Esbjerg, which moves them up to tenth, albeit equal on points with both Horsens just below them and Brøndby just above them. Last season’s sixth-place finishers lost their first game of the weekend 2-0 to Midtjylland but came back fighting against an Esbjerg side who beat AGF 1-0 four days earlier, with Lasse Vibe, Florian Hart and Johan Absalonsen all hitting the back of the net in a game that saw their opponents reduced to ten men after only eleven minutes when Jesper Lange was shown a straight red card for violent conduct.

Silkeborg remain bottom of the table, three points behind Horsens, SønderjyskE and Brøndby, after they lost 1-0 away to Aalborg, with the victory being the home side’s first in the league since the end of November. Brøndby, meanwhile, picked up their second consecutive win, beating third-place Randers 1-0 to hand them their first league defeat since the start of December thanks to a fifty-ninth-minute goal from Simon Makienok, his thirteenth of the season so far.

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Norway

The pressure mounts on the reigning champions, whilst newly-promoted Sarpsborg 08 continue their unbeaten streak

Despite only being three games in, we’ve already learnt a lot about many of the clubs battling it out to be crowned Tippeligaen champions this season. However, as is always the case with Norwegian football’s top tier, expect anything and everything to happen as what is bound to be a typically whacky season unfolds.

It’s been a rough opening few weeks for reigning champions Molde, and this weekend marked their third straight defeat in a row, leaving them rooted to the bottom of the table as the only side without a point on the board yet this season. Just one goal was enough to beat them when they travelled to Bergen to take on Brann, with Amin Askar scoring ten minutes from time to give Rune Skarsfjord’s side a much-needed boost after last week’s 4-0 loss to Rosenborg.

A frighteningly powerful Rosenborg side did the same damage to Sogndal this weekend that they did to Brann the last when the two sides met at Fosshaugane Campus on Sunday evening. After a goalless first half an hour, the visitors struck three times in just fifteen minutes through Tobias Mikkelsen (the Dane’s first for the club since his move from Greuther Fürth in January), Nicki Bille Nielsen (also his first since his move from Villarreal at the same time as his fellow Dane) and Jonas Svensson. Tarik Elyounoussi then wrapped up an emphatic win with fourteen minutes left to play to keep Rosenborg’s 100% league record intact.

Aalesund too picked up their third win out of as many games in a thrilling encounter at home to Hønefoss. Michael Barrantes and Leke James put the hosts 2-0 up after only fifteen minutes before two goals in thirteen minutes soon after from Raymond Mendy and Kevin Larsen forced the two sides to go into the half-time break with the scores level at 2-2. Hønefoss then went ahead five minutes into the second half through Riku Riski before Aalesund embarked on a comeback of their own ten minutes later when Peter Larsen equalised for them and Demar Phillips scored the deciding goal just six minutes later.

Behind Rosenborg and Aalesund, Viking are currently the third best side after the opening three games of the season thanks to the slender 1-0 victory they picked up away to Lillestrøm on Sunday afternoon. Johan Lædre Bjørdal scored the eventual winner on the stroke of half-time to give Viking their second win so far and their first win away to Lillestrøm in thirteen years.

It’s also been a positive start to the season for newly promoted Sarpsborg 08 as their 1-1 draw away to last season’s second-place finishers Strømsgodset means that they remain unbeaten this campaign. Similar is the story for fellow promoted side Start who are also unbeaten – albeit after playing only two games so far, not three – thanks to an impressive 2-2 draw against Tromsø this weekend.

Nearer the bottom of the table, Sandnes Ulf and Haugesund’s 1-1 draw saw the two sides pick up their first point of the season, whilst goals from Frode Johnsen and Adem Güven in the thirteenth and twentieth minutes, respectively, secured their first victory of the new season at home to a Vålerenga side who have three points after three games.

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 Sweden

IFK Göteborg and Norrköping make it two wins out of two, whilst crowd trouble sees Djurgården vs. Mjällby suspended

The biggest talking point in Swedish football this weekend was the suspension of Djurgården and Mjällby’s match in Stockholm on Monday evening. After Mjällby went 1-0 up after thirty-seven minutes, several Djurgården supporters started throwing objects onto the pitch towards the celebrating players, with defender Gbenga Arokoyo being hit in the stomach by a pear in the process. With beer bottles raining down around the sidelines, the referee decided to call an end to the game, and it is unclear what the outcome of the clash will now be. However, it is likely that Mjällby will be awarded a 3-0 victory and Djurgården will be handed a heavy fine by the Swedish FA.

IFK Göteborg and Norrköping remain the only two sides with a 100% record after the first two games of the new season after they beat Brommapojkarna 2-0 and Gefle 2-1, respectively. Philip Haglund and David Moberg-Karlsson scored the goals for IFK Göteborg, whilst Gunnar Þorvaldsson and Imad Khalili cancelled out Mikael Dahlberg’s fifty-second-minute goal with goals of their own to secure all three points against a Gefle side that were reduced to ten men after Anders Wikström was shown a straight red card after fifty-five minutes.

Behind IFK Göteborg and Norrköping lie Helsingborg, Kalmar and Malmö FF who all have four points after the first two rounds. After winning their opening games of the season, Helsingborg and Kalmar were both held to draws this weekend – 1-1 against newly promoted Öster and 0-0 against Häcken, respectively – whilst Malmö FF picked up their first league victory of 2013 with a 3-1 win away to Åtvidaberg thanks to a goal shortly before half-time from Magnus Eriksson and a second-half brace from Erik Friberg.

AIK are still searching for their first win of the new season after they drew again this weekend, this time 0-0 to Syrianska FC, whilst it’s a similar story for last year’s champions Elfsborg who’s ten men held on to draw 1-1 with Halmstad to leave them with two points after a slow start to the new campaign.

Ben Cullimore

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

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