SCANDINAVIA: Denmark, Norway and Sweden weekly review

Denmark

AGF slip further towards the relegation zone as Brøndby and Horsens pick up vital victories

With just four games left to play, the battle to avoid relegation remains as close as ever, with, arguably, any of the sides in the bottom half of the table still remaining in danger of dropping to the 1st Division.

Despite how close it is, bottom-of-the-table Silkeborg look the most likely of all of the sides to suffer the anguish of relegation. Out of twenty-nine games, the side who finished fifth last year and were playing the likes of Real Zaragoza in the UEFA Cup little over a decade ago have lost a whopping seventeen of them, winning just eight. Their seventeenth defeat, a 1-0 loss at home to Esbjerg thanks to a forty-eighth minute goal from Arnór Smárason, was handed to them this weekend, leaving them three points behind fellow strugglers Horsens and Brøndby after they picked up vital victories on Sunday.

Horsens’ – their first since the first half of March, and, incredibly, only their second since the start November last year – beat a Randers side that are now without a win in their last four games. Morten Rasmussen scored the game’s only goal seven minutes before half time to move them only three points from safety.

Brøndby, meanwhile, left it late for theirs, as they narrowly beat Odense 2-1 away at TRE-FOR Park. Bashkim Kadrii opened the scoring for Odense after eight minutes before Jens Larsen equalised from the penalty spot shortly after, but the winner didn’t come until three minutes from time when Quincy Antipas condemned Odense to their third consecutive league defeat.

Three points ahead of Horsens and Brøndby lie SønderjyskE, who extended their unbeaten run to four games thanks to a well-earned 2-2 draw away to second-place Nordsjælland. Thanks to København’s goalless draw with AGF – both sides’ second in a row – the gap between first and second remains at ten points, but with so few games left to play it’s unlikely that the reigning champions will remain so for much longer; Nordsjælland travel to Silkeborg on Friday knowing that defeat there will hand the title over to the giants from the capital.

On a weekend that didn’t bring as many goals as many would have hoped, Monday night’s clash between Midtjylland and Aalborg saw the ball hit the back of the net five times, as the latter came from behind twice to beat the seventh-place side 3-2 to move above Randers into third place, albeit equal on points with them.

Norway

More misery for Molde, whilst Rosenborg are handed a shock defeat in a fiery encounter in Trondheim

There were even more twists and turns in Tippeligaen this week as the mad and bipolar nature of the league was on fine form for all to see, as always…

After starting the season with three consecutive wins, Rosenborg have now gone on to fail to win in their last three, thanks to a 1-1 draw with newly promoted Start, a 3-1 defeat to Haugesund and this week’s 1-0 loss to Sandnes Ulf. Steinþor þorsteinsson scored the only goal after twenty-three minutes in a game which saw Rosenborg reduced to nine men, first losing captain Tore Reginiussen after sixty-five minutes when he brought down Fredrik Torsteinbø in front of goal, and then Nicki Bille Nielsen when he received his second yellow card after clashing with Sandnes Ulf goalkeeper Sean McDermott with mere moments left to play. The hot-blooded Dane proceeded to rip his shirt in two in frustration as he left the field, rather fittingly summing up Rosenborg’s situation as of late.

It was another disappointing week for reigning champions Molde too, who remain bottom of the table with just one point after they lost for the fifth time already this season, this time 2-1 at home to last season’s second-place finishers, and one of the favourites for this year’s title, Strømsgodset. Lars Vilsvik put the visitors 1-0 ahead against a makeshift defence plagued by injury after thirty minutes, before Mohammed Keita doubled the scoreline nine minutes into the second half. Daniel Chima, who has been forced to take over the role of Molde’s leading striker following the departure of the impressive Davy Claude Angan to Chinese club Hangzhou Greentown, finally scored his first goal of the season with seven minutes left to play, but it was too late and Strømsgodset held on to win their fourth league match of 2013.

The win also moved Strømsgodset equal on points with leaders Aalesund after they lost for the first time this season against former manager Kjetil Rekdal and his Vålerenga side on Saturday afternoon. Mohammed Fellah put Vålerenga ahead just three minutes before the break and Mostafa Abdellaoue made it 2-0 just before the hour mark. Fredrik Ulvestad pulled one back for Aalesund from the penalty spot after eighty-three minutes but it wasn’t enough as Vålerenga’s lead remained until the final whistle and ended their poor run of three consecutive league defeats.

The win of the weekend went to Viking who emphatically beat Sogndal 4-1 at home to move them up to third in the table, just one point behind both Strømsgodset and Aalesund. Yann Erik de Lanlay and Patrik Ingelsten hit the back of the net early to give the hosts a 2-0 lead after only ten minutes, but substitute Azar Karadas pulled one back for Sogndal eleven minutes into second half. However, all hopes of a Sogndal comeback were singlehandedly ruined by Trond Olsen when he stuck twice in injury time to record Viking’s biggest league win since they beat Odd by the same scoreline last August.

Odd dropped into the relegation zone after losing 2-0 to Brann on Friday evening thanks to a goal in either half from Erik Huseklepp, moving the Bergen-based side up to fourth in the table. Odd, meanwhile, are now without a win in their last three games and sit three points ahead of bottom-of-the-table Molde and one point behind fourteenth-place Sogndal and thirteenth-place Hønefoss, after the latter drew 1-1 with eleventh-place Sarpsborg 08 this weekend.

Tromsø ended three games without a win when they won 2-1 at home to a Haugesund side that had previously won their last three in a row before this weekend. They went into the break with a 1-0 lead thanks to Remi Johansen’s twentieth minute opener, before Zdeněk Ondrášek scored their second after sixty-two minutes. Danish defender Henrik Kildentoft scored his first goal for Haugesund since his move from Nordsjælland with little over ten minutes left to play, but it would prove to only be a consolation goal as Tromsø held on to win.

Lillestrøm were also victorious, their third time so far this season, when they came back from behind twice to beat Start 3-2 on Saturday afternoon. Jorge Castro put the newly promoted side ahead after twenty-two minutes but Pálmi Pálmason responded almost immediately for Lillestrøm when he fired in three minutes later. His fellow Icelander Matthías Vilhjálmsson put Start back ahead four minutes before half time with his second goal of the season, but their lead would be short-lived again, however, as two goals in three minutes from Petter Vaagan Moen and Thorstein Helstad early in the second half put Lillestrøm 3-2 ahead. Start were then reduced to ten men with quarter of an hour left to play when Babacar Sarr received his second yellow card of the match, all but ending any hopes of a push for another lead.

Sweden

IFK Göteborg, Malmö FF and Elfsborg remain unbeaten after the opening six games, whilst Djurgården are having a time as torrid as Molde’s

After the opening six games of the Allsvenskan season, IFK Göteborg, Malmö FF and reigning champions Elfsborg remain unbeaten, with the first two battling it out at the top of the table, whilst the latter sit four points behind them in fourth.

IFK Göteborg and Malmö FF met each other on Thursday evening in what could already be described as a crunch match due to the impeccable form that these two sides are in, despite how early in the season it remains. IFK Göteborg almost lost their unbeaten run, not to mention their spot at the top of the Allsvenskan table, however, after it looked like Tukelo Rantie’s twenty-ninth-minute goal was going to bring all three points back to Malmö. However, twenty-year-old striker Sam Larsson was on hand to rescue a point for the hosts four minutes into extra time, ensuring that his side remain top of the table for another week, albeit still equal on points with Malmö FF.

Elfsborg continued their unbeaten streak with a 3-1 victory over Öster, who have now lost their last two games in a row, and moved up to fourth place in the table in the process, whilst Kalmar, Mjällby and Norrköping lie in fifth, sixth and seventh places, respectively, with one less point. Kalmar were involved in a goalless draw with Åtvidaberg, whilst Mjällby and Norrköping were both involved in 4-2 victories at home, with the former’s coming against newly promoted Brommapojkarna and the latter’s against Häcken.

After a mediocre start to the new campaign, Helsingborg sit just one point behind the top two sides after they won their third game in a row this weekend. They did so in comfortable fashion too, beating Gefle 5-1 with four different scorers in front of 10,000 at Olympia. It was actually the hosts that took the lead after only ten minutes through Anders Wikström, but Helsingborg responded emphatically with goals from Alejandro Bedoya, Peter Larsson, Mattias Lindström and a brace from Robin Simovic to beat Gefle, who were reduced to ten men after seventy-four minutes when Par Asp was shown a straight red card, with ease.

At the other end of the table, things remain as bleak as ever for Djurgården as they were handed their fourth defeat of the season, losing 1-0 to Syrianska FC, moving the latter up to tenth and leaving the former rooted to the bottom of the table. Nearest rivals Halmstad came from behind twice to draw 3-3 with AIK to give them four points from six games, whilst AIK move up to eleventh with only six.

Ben Cullimore

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

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