SCANDINAVIA: Denmark, Norway and Sweden weekly review

Denmark

SønderjyskE’s third win in a row pushes them away from a bottom three that remain equal on points and battling ferociously for safety.

As has been the case for the majority of the season, the Superliga relegation zone remains as close as ever as we enter the final five games. However, SønderjyskE have slightly less to worry about than Silkeborg, Horsens and Brøndby as they moved five points clear of the bottom two with a thumping 4-1 win at home to Odense, their third in a row. Morten Skoubo put Odense ahead after only eleven minutes but Tommy Bechmann (pictured above) equalised on the stroke of half time to set the wheels in motion for a second-half demolition from the hosts. Henrik Hansen put them ahead six minutes after the break and two goals in quick succession from Johan Absalonsen and another from Bechmann wrapped up a vitally important victory for SønderjyskE with just twenty-five minutes left to play.

Behind SønderjyskE, a bottom three comprising of bottom-place Silkeborg, eleventh-place Horsens and tenth-place Brøndby all sit on twenty-eight points each after all three sides were held to draws this weekend. Brøndby and Silkeborg drew 2-2 on Sunday afternoon, whilst Horsens were involved in a goalless draw with eighth-place AGF. Despite being six points clear of the relegation zone, AGF are in serious danger of slipping into it as the Aarhus-based side are now without a league win in five games, and have only won two of their last ten. With SønderjyskE in good form at the moment, AGF could well drop down to ninth place next weekend if they fail to get a point against league leaders København and SønderjyskE pull off another impressive win against Nordsjælland.

København remain ten points clear at the top of the Superliga table after both they and Nordsjælland had to share the points in each of their games. København came back from behind to draw 1-1 against fourth-place Aalborg, whilst neither Nordsjælland nor third-place Randers were able to find the back of the net when the two sides clashed at AutoC Park Randers on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Midtjylland were the only other side besides SønderjyskE to pick up three points this weekend, after they beat Esbjerg 1-0, thanks to a twenty-third minute goal from Danny Olsen. The win, their third in a row, like SønderjyskE, sees them overtake Esbjerg and claim sixth place, equal on points with fifth-place Odense.

Norway

Molde finally pick up a point, whilst Rosenborg are defeated for the first time this year

As has been mentioned every week, 2013 has been a truly horrid year for Molde, despite it still being so early in the new season. But, after losing their opening four league matches, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s (pictured above) men finally picked up their first point of the campaign this weekend when they drew 1-1 away to Odd on Saturday afternoon. It looked as if Molde might have been treated to the usual doom and gloom when Havard Storbæk put the hosts ahead after thirty-four minutes, but Daniel Hestad was on hand to score what would prove to be the game’s final goal just four minutes later.

Molde remain bottom, however, two points behind Vålerenga who have also had a poor start to Tippeligaen 2013. They were handed their third straight defeat by Start in a 1-0 win for the newly promoted side at home at Sør Arena in Kristiansand. The winner came from Ghanaian forward Ernest Asante after seventy-four minutes – just four minutes after he’d come on as a substitute – and means that Start are only one of two clubs who are still unbeaten this season, albeit playing one game less than every side bar Haugesund after their clash was postponed at the start of the month.

The other unbeaten side are Aalesund who currently sit top of the table after an impressive first five games. After winning their first four against Haugesund, Sandnes Ulf, Hønefoss and Sarpsborg 08, Jan Jönsson’s new side faced arguably their toughest challenge so far when they hosted Tromsø on Sunday. However, the latter have had a slow start to the season, winning only one of their first four games before this weekend, and they were held to a 0-0 draw – their third draw so far – by a valiant Aalesund side.

Arguably the biggest shock of the weekend was second-place Rosenborg’s 3-1 defeat to Haugesund later that day. After beating Odd, Brann and Sogndal in their first three games (the latter two games both ended in emphatic 4-0 victories) last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Start saw the Trondheim giants stumble for the first time in 2013. Haugesund, who won their first game of the year against Hønefoss last weekend, took full advantage of this and found themselves 2-0 up after thirty-five minutes thanks to a Daniel Bamberg penalty kick and a goal from Alexander Søderlund. Mix Diskerud pulled one back for Rosenborg six minutes into the second half but it wasn’t enough to initiate any sort of comeback as a lackluster side, who were reduced to ten men after sixty-six minutes when Cristian Gamboa was shown a second yellow card, conceded a third goal, this time from Tor Andreassen, with a minute to play.

Rosenborg now sit equal on points with third-place Strømsgodset after they won their third game of the season when they beat Lillestrøm at Marienlyst Stadion. Péter Kovács, always on hand to score important goals, scored what would turn out to be the winning goal on the thirty-eighth minute, moving his side above Viking who were beaten away from home by Brann. The game would turn out to be over in just nineteen minutes, with Erik Huseklepp hitting the back of the net after only three and Fredrik Nordkvelle doubling the home side’s lead sixteen later. The victory, Brann’s third, moves them equal on points with Viking who have the same record but a superior goal difference of only one.

In the bottom half of the table, ten-man Sarpsborg 08 were held to a goalless draw by Sogndal on Sunday at Fosshaugane Campus, whilst Sandnes Ulf and Hønefoss, the two sides who were promoted from Adeccoligaen the season before last, drew 1-1. Bjørnar Holmvik put Sandnes Ulf ahead two minutes before the break, and it looked like they were going to claim their second win of the season until Aleksander Solli equalised for Hønefoss in the eighty-eighth minute.

Sweden

IFK Göteborg and Malmö FF remain unbeaten at the top after sixteen games spread over six days

Midweek games on both Wednesday and Thursday as well as again on Sunday and Monday meant that both Rounds 4 and 5 of the new Allsvenskan season were played this week. The short amount of time in between games seemingly worked wonders for some, whilst others, particularly those who already find themselves in the bottom half of the table, were crippled by the busy schedule.

That was certainly not the case for IFK Göteborg, who were victorious in both of their games to remain at the top of the table for another week. There 100% record was ruined in Round 3 thanks to a goalless draw away to reigning champions Elfsborg, but they came back with a bang, first beating Syrianska FC 2-0 and then going on to win 2-1 away to Åtvidaberg on Sunday evening. It was a similar story for second-place Malmö FF too, who stretched their unbeaten run to four games after beating AIK 1-0 and Öster 2-0. The top two sides sit equal on points, three ahead of Helsingborg, and meet each other a crunch match on Thursday this week. Despite it being so early in the season, the way the two sides are playing indicates that the outcome of this clash may turn out to be extremely important.

As for Helsingborg, they too won both of their games this week to keep up with the frenetic pace of IFK Göteborg and Malmö FF; their first was an emphatic 4-1 victory away to struggling Norrköping (who also lost 3-1 to third-bottom Syrianska FC to drop down to tenth place), whilst their second was a comfortable 2-0 win away to Brommapojkarna.

Kalmar sit two points behind Helsingborg after drawing 1-1 against Elfsborg and coming from behind to beat Halmstad 2-1, as do Öster, who beat Häcken 2-0 but were beaten by the same scoreline by Malmö FF five days later. However, the defeat is only Öster’s first since their return to Allsvenskan after winning Superettan last season, and they’re faring far better than fellow newly promoted side Brommapojkarna who currently sit in twelfth place after their loss to Helsingborg and a 1-1 draw against Djurgården.

Djurgården are undoubtedly having the worst start to the season of them all, however, as the 2005 league winners still remain without a win this season. The draw against Brommapojkarna was only their first point of 2013, and their 2-0 defeat to sixth-place Elfsborg on Monday piled even more misery onto Magnus Pehrsson and his men. Second-to-bottom-place Halmstad are the only other side that remain without a win this season after they drew 0-0 with Åtvidaberg and lost 2-1 to Kalmar.

Two defeats this week for Gefle (1-0 against Mjällby and 2-1 against AIK) see them drop down to eighth-place, whilst Mjällby went equal on points with them in ninth-place after their victory, despite going on to lose against Häcken.

Ben Cullimore

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

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