SCANDINAVIA: Denmark, Norway and Sweden weekly review

Denmark

København go ten points clear at the top with six games left, whilst the bottom half of the table remains as close as ever

After uncharacteristically going three games without a win, København got back to winning ways when it mattered the most this week, stretching their lead at the top of the Superliga to ten points after they beat second-place Nordsjælland 3-2 on Monday evening. Despite going ahead after only five minutes through centre-back Ragnar Sigurðsson, the league leaders had to come from behind to win late on in the second half. Patrick Mtiliga equalised for the reigning champions just two minutes after Sigurðsson’s opener, and Morten Nordstrand’s twenty-sixth-minute goal meant that they went into the half-time break 2-1 ahead. Their lead stayed intact until twenty-one minutes into the second half when Belgian substitute Igor Vetokele made it 2-2 after being on the pitch for only five minutes, and wonder-kid Andreas Cornelius fittingly scored the winner, and his eighteenth goal of the season, with twelve minutes left to play. With six games left in the season and København obviously full of belief that they can go all the way after this week’s win, it looks like the title will be returning to the capital for a tenth time.

Third-place Randers were unable to capitalise on Nordsjælland’s loss and were defeated for the second week in a row by sixth-place Esbjerg, the West Jutland side beating them 4-0 at home on Sunday afternoon. Youssef Toutouh scored arguably one of the best goals this season to put the hosts ahead just past the half-hour mark, and a Martin Braithwaite goal and a brace from Icelandic winger Arnór Smárason in the second half wrapped up an emphatic win for Esbjerg which moves them above eighth-place AGF, who were beaten 3-1 away from home by bottom-of-the-table Silkeborg, thanks to a Marvin Pourie double and an eighty-third minute goal from Martin Svensson. Thanks to results elsewhere, the win means that Silkeborg are now equal on points with eleventh-place Horsens and tenth-place Brøndby, whilst the defeat is AGF’s fourth in a row.

The results that mattered to Silkeborg were the defeats of Horsens and Brøndby at the hands of Midtjylland and SønderjyskE, respectively, with both being high-scoring affairs. Midtjylland picked up their second win in as many weeks when they thrashed the second-to-bottom-place side 5-2 at home at MCH Arena, whilst SønderjyskE moved three points clear of Silkeborg, Horsens and Brøndby thanks to a 3-0 victory away from home.

Elsewhere, fourth-place Aalborg increased the pressure on Randers with victory over fifth-place Odense in a seven-goal thriller at TRE-FOR Park that ended in a 4-3 win for the northerners. Aalborg initially went 2-0 up after thirty-seven minutes thanks to a brace from Søren Frederiksen, but goals late in the first half and early in the second half from Emil Larsen and Marcus Pedersen made the scores level once again. Nicklas Helenius put the visitors ahead shortly after the hour mark before Espen Ruud equalised for Odense six minutes later from the penalty spot. It looked as if it was going to stay that way until three minutes before the end of the match when Kenneth Petersen scored the all-important winning goal to send Aalborg four points clear of Odense and within three points of Randers.

Norway

Further misery for Molde as Ole Gunnar Solskjær admits that they can already forget about a third consecutive league title.

After winning back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012, 2013 has been a rotten year for Molde, and we’re only four games into the new season. After losing 2-1 to Viking in the opening game of the season, Molde would have expected to pick up at least a point at home to Lillestrøm in Round 2 after a two-week international break. However, it wasn’t to be; Lillestrøm dealt the reigning champions another 2-1 loss. Then, after back-to-back defeats for the first time under Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s reign, the prospect of picking up points away to Brann didn’t look too promising, and those that were cynical about Molde’s chances were right to be so as they lost 1-0. And now this week Molde hosted a Sogndal side that had lost two out of their first three games of the season, whilst drawing the other. Surely Molde had to at least draw this game? Surely there wasn’t any chance that they could go a shocking four games without a single point? Sogndal went ahead after seventeen minutes through Ricardo Santos and never looked back, eventually winning 2-1 after Magnus Stamnestrø, on loan from Molde to Sogndal, doubled their lead in the eighty-sixth minute. Etzaz Hussain saved Solskjær’s side from losing without scoring at all when he pulled one back in the ninety-fifth minute, but it was only a consolation goal as Sogndal held on to pick up all three points. The alarm bells are ringing ferociously in the Molde camp and who, if anyone, has the ability to turn them off?

At the other end of the table, Aalesund are playing as brilliantly as Molde are playing terribly, and this weekend they won their fourth league game in a row to keep their 100% record intact for another week. On Sunday afternoon, they met an impressive Sarpsborg 08 side who were unbeaten after their first three games of the new season, but they didn’t have enough to beat Jan Jönsson’s men, who took all three points back west thanks to goals in either half from Abderrazak Hamdallah – his first goal since signing from Olympique S onowafi for a club record fee of one million euros – and Leke James.

This weekend also saw Aalesund move to the top of the table thanks to Rosenborg losing their 100% record after they were only able to draw 1-1 at home to Start on Friday evening. Tarik Elyounoussi put the hosts ahead after only eight minutes but, despite a plethora of chances, they were unable to further their lead against a resolute Start side. Espen Børufsen then capitalised on Rosenborg’s inability to score when he scored an equaliser with only three minutes of the match remaining. Start have only played three games so far this season due to their second round game against Haugesund being postponed, but the newly-promoted side have impressed and currently sit unbeaten in seventh place.

Sandnes Ulf also impressed this weekend when they pulled off a fantastic 1-0 win away to Tromsø on Sunday afternoon. The latter have had a rather slow start to the season so far, only winning once, and Sandnes Ulf capitalised on this by beating them to pick up their first win of the season, with Steinþor þorsteinsson scoring the only goal ten minutes into the second half.

Haugesund also picked up their first win of the season this weekend in similar fashion to Sandnes Ulf when they won 1-0 away to Hønefoss. They left it late, however, and the winning goal didn’t come until six minutes from the end when Christian Gytkjær scored his first goal for the club since moving from Danish club Nordsjælland. The defeat, their third so far, moves Hønefoss down to fourteenth place, equal on points with both thirteenth-place Odd and fifteenth-place Vålerenga.

Both Odd and Vålerenga were also handed their third defeats of the season this weekend, with Odd losing 1-0 to Viking and Vålerenga being comfortably defeated 3-0 at home to Strømsgodset. Veton Berisha scored Viking’s only goal in their victory, whilst over in the capital Øyvind Storflor, Jarl André Storbæk and Mohammed Keita all scored within the first sixteen minutes in a game that Vålerenga players and fans alike will want to forget as quickly as possible. The wins for Viking and Strømsgodset mean that they both stay near the top of the table, with the former in third place and the latter in fourth.

Sweden

Newly promoted Öster remain unbeaten with the big boys, whilst reigning champions Elfsborg are still searching for their first win.

Four teams continued their unbeaten streaks this weekend, with two of the sides, IFK Göteborg and Malmö FF, already battling it out at the top of the table. Despite losing their 100% record, IFK Göteborg finished Round 3 of the new Allsvenskan season in pole position after they drew 0-0 away to last year’s champions Elfsborg. The reigning champions are still without a win so far this season after drawing their first three games against AIK, Halmstad and IFK Göteborg, and will be eagerly looking to secure three points to kick-start their title defence when they travel to Kalmar on Thursday evening.

Malmö FF’s unbeaten run continues thanks to a win against Kalmar themselves, with one goal after thirteen minutes from Jiloan Hamad proving to be enough to secure last season’s third-place finishers their second win in a row.

Newly promoted Öster are also unbeaten so far in 2013 thanks to their first win of the new campaign away to Syrianska FC. Freddy Söderberg scored the only goal in a win that sees last year’s Superettan champions move up to fifth in the table. Meanwhile, fellow newly promoted side Brommapojkarna also picked up their first win of the season in a 1-0 victory at home to Norrköping. Unfortunately, only 1,698 fans witnessed the impressive win; the lowest Allsvenskan attendance so far this season.

Norrköping’s defeat meant that Gefle were able to overtake them and claim third-place for themselves after they beat Halmstad 2-0, thanks to two goals in five minutes early in the second half from Johan Oremo and Mikael Dahlberg. Their win also moves them above Helsingborg, who lost 2-1 away to Mjällby in a game which saw Di Röe reduced to ten men after Peter Larsson was shown a second yellow card eight minutes into the second half, allowing Haris Radetinac to capitalise on Kristian Haynes’ earlier goal for the winner, cancelling out Mattias Lindström’s fifteenth-minute opener.

Helsingborg now sit in sixth-place with four points, equal on points with Häcken who won their first game of the season in fine fashion this weekend, thrashing Djurgården 4-0 in front of just over 3,000 at Rambergsvallen. After their disgraceful actions against Mjällby last weekend that led to the game being postponed due to crowd trouble, many will see this heavy defeat as a case of justice being served. After goals from René Makondele and Martin Ericsson gave the hosts a 2-0 lead at half time, a double from Moestafa El Kabir in the second half wrapped up the emphatic win before an hour of the match had even been played.

After losing their first two matches to Gefle and Malmö FF, Åtvidaberg picked up their first win of the new season at home to struggling AIK when the two sides met on Sunday afternoon. Imad Zatara scored the only goal of the game thirteen minutes into the second half to send Åtvidaberg up to twelfth in the table, one point ahead of last year’s fourth-place finishers AIK who still haven’t won this season.

Ben Cullimore

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

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